Ladies all set for Black Cats scrap after gruelling pre-season

Pompey's Leeta Rutherford. Picture: Steve Reid 113938-070
Pompey's Leeta Rutherford. Picture: Steve Reid 113938-070

Pompey Ladies are ready to go to war as they begin their FA Women’s Premier League campaign this weekend.

Vanessa Raynbird’s side meet reigning champions Sunderland in their national division opener after securing promotion.

And they have been calling on the services of an army PTI to put them through their paces as they gear up for the new season.

That has led to them being tested to their physical limits in gruelling sessions.

But midfielder Leeta Rutherford feels all that hard work has paid off in the team’s fitness levels.

Rutherford believes that will hold her side in good stead for the physical challenges they face this season.

And the 24-year-old reckons that will be on show as the Black Cats come to Dover Road on Sunday.

Rutherford said: ‘We can’t wait to get started.

‘Everyone’s really excited and we have trained hard all through pre-season.

‘It’s been pretty tough in training, a lot more intense than the last couple of seasons.

‘We have had an army guy come in and push us really hard.

‘We were all moaning about it at first but at the end of it we feel a lot better and stronger.

‘Our fitness levels are up and we are all buzzing from it.

‘It’s a big leap in level for us and we know this league is going to be more physical.

‘There are a lot more northern teams in it and they tend to play that way.

‘We want to compete well week-in, week-out and the training is going to stand us in good stead.

‘Sunderland are a tough team to play in the first game but they have to travel down to us.

‘Hopefully they will think they are in for an easy game because we’ve just got promoted.

‘It’s going to be a good test but we will be ready.’

It’s a mix of old and new as Pompey look towards a big season in their history.

Sarah Kempson has arrived after picking up high-level experience at the likes of Chelsea and Brighton.

Shelly Cox has also operated at national division standard and her nous will prove important.

Rutherford also pinpointed the likes of Charley Wilson and skipper Kirsty McGee as players who will have a big part to play.

And she believes the team spirit among Raynbird’s side can carry them a long way in a season where it will be needed.

Rutherford said: ‘We’ve got some good players. Shelly has played at this level and so has Sarah. We’re lucky to get her.

‘Kirsty will be important and Charley has looked really good in pre-season.

‘There’s enthusiasm and confidence in the side

‘The team spirit is the best it’s ever been.’