Preseason and transfer speculation come hand in hand, and some of the key transfers made are the players clubs retain.
Women’s Premier League champions Glasgow City are looking to win an astonishing – and unprecedented in Scottish Football – tenth SWPL title in a row and they have recently revealed the players who have signed on for 2016.
Captain Leanne Ross has signed on to aim for her tenth successive league title, and her dead-ball ability and crossing delivery will be critical, along with her experience. Jo Love, who has 165 caps for Scotland, has also committed to another season with City.
They have retained the majority of their potent attacking core. Up front, they have kept hold of several key players. Denise O’Sullivan, who won the club’s player of the season. And fellow Irish international Clare Shine, whose hat-trick saw City win the 2015 Scottish Cup.
Hayley Lauder has been retained, and is a player who can either play on the left or right wings, (as well as left-back where she plays for Scotland). Scottish legend Julie Fleeting, who won the Champions League with Arsenal. Fiona Brown will hope to start the season with the same form that saw her named Player of the Month for May, before getting a season-ending knee injury. Sarah Crilly will look to continue her recovery after two years out with injury, as will Alyshia Walker who will hope her rehabilitation allows her to make an impact in the season.
Erin Cuthbert, who in the 2015 season became a key part of the City central midfield two will be aiming to build upon her performances that saw her win the club’s Young Player of the Year. 16-year old midfielder Brogan Hay has been promoted from the club’s academy, and it will be exciting to see the development of the Under-17 international. Lauren McMurchie has signed up for her eighth season with the club, her composure while under pressure will be critical. Midfielder Emily Thomson will be another City player aiming to make a strong recovery from her injury to feature in 2016.
In defence, they have also held onto key players. Cheryl McCulloch and Nicky Docherty have committed to the club, as has Sarah Clelland – the promising 18-year right-back who signed joined the club back in July.
However, there are some notable names missing.
The departure of first-choice goalkeeper Lee Alexander to sign a professional contract with Swedish side Mallbackens will be a big loss. She has been at the club for five years, and her performances last season saw her break into the Scotland squad for the first time.
Responding to this departure, City secured Scotland’s captain Gemma Fay from Celtic who, with 188 caps for her country, will provide a safe pair of hands as they look to make progress in next season’s Champions League.
City have also lost their promising number two goalkeeper Megan Cunningham to rivals Celtic. Providing back-up to Fay will be Erin Clachers who has been promoted from the club’s academy.
City have also added to their Irish contingent by signing midfielder Ruesha Littlejohn from Celtic. Littlejohn is no stranger to the club having previously played for them on three separate occasions, before having spells with Liverpool, Arsenal, Norwegian side IL Sandviken and Celtic. Her signing strengthens City’s already potent attacking threat.
The other players who have left are Susan Fairlie (who scored the winning goal in the 2015 SWP League Cup Final); Courtney Whyte and Kerry Montgomery who have both joined Celtic and centre-back Rhonda Jones.
The fate of defender Georgie Rafferty, a Scotland U19 international has yet to be confirmed. While Abbi Grant has also left the club with no news on what club she will be heading to next.
With these dealings, Glasgow City have sent out an early warning message to their rivals – that they intend to secure that coveted tenth league title in a row.