Celtic's Women’s team kick off their 2017 summer season this Sunday, February 19 with a home Premier League Cup tie against Forfar Farmington at the K-Park Training Academy in East Kilbride.
There are two Premier League divisions, and the draw was seeded so that top league teams would not play against each other. However, Forfar Farmington were only relegated last season and have retained most of their players, so they will be one of the stronger teams in the lower division.
Ahead of Sunday’s cup-tie, Hoops manager David Haley spoke to the official Celtic website about the his hopes for the 2017 season and the new players in his squad.
“Our pre-season started in January and it has gone very well,” he said. “We have some new staff members who have introduced new techniques and styles into pre-season and the players have responded really well to this.
“We’ve also got a lot out of the games we've played, and the squad is in good shape leading up to our first competitive game on Sunday.
“We have retained the majority of our squad from last season and we feel we have strengthened in the areas we lost players. With a bit of luck, we hope to sign two more players who will enhance our talented squad before the league campaign gets underway.
“I sense that the players know that they have to improve from last season. Our target, as always, is to finish as high in the league as we can, but we want to be in a position at the last few games of the season where are challenging for the league.
“The Premier League Cup and the Scottish Cup are targets too, and we feel with the players we have that we can certainly compete and get to a final.
“All our games are important, but there are games we all look forward to. The games against Glasgow City and Hibs are the ones everyone looks at as higher-profile matches, but I think they will take care of themselves. We need to make sure we are winning all the other games, which is something we didn’t do last season.
“The match against Rangers at Celtic Park last season was a huge highlight for everyone and we will be playing at Celtic Park again this season against Stirling University on April 16 – and I know the players are really looking forward to that.”
Celtic have brought in some new players for the forthcoming season, with Sarah Crilly joining from Glasgow City and Sarah Ewens moving to the Hoops after a long career with Spartans and Hibernian.
And they’re joined by defender Kelsey Hodges from Dallas, Texas, who will be enjoying her first experience of Scottish football this season.
David Haley said: “Sarah Crilly is a positive, creative and inventive player who will provide us with genuine pace and will cause teams problems.
“Sarah Ewens is a fine striker who will, I have no doubt whatsoever, score goals for Celtic this season. She has great pace, is direct and will provide us with good movement. We can’t wait to see her in competitive action.
“And Kelsey Hodges has already shown herself to be a strong, aggressive defender who will provide us with a bit of pace at the back.
She’s a confident player who has already fitted in really well so far, and will give us great strength in the defensive areas."
Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup first round
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Celtic v Forfar Farmington
K-Park Training Academy
Calderglen Country Park, Strathaven Road, East Kilbride G75 0QZ
Kick-off: 2 pm
(Adults £5, concessions £3, U16s free)
Reported by Celtic FC
Picture: Celtic FC