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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Andy Spence says he is eagerly anticipating the new season on the eve of Everton Ladies' Merseyside derby opener.

With last weekend's FA Cup tie at Oxford United postponed, the Blues tackle rivals Liverpool in the Continental Cup at Halton Stadium on Saturday (7.15pm kick-off) - their first competitive game of the campaign.

And having taken over from long-serving manager Mo Marley at the end of last season, Spence admits he is keen to start his reign with a win.

"It's a really exciting game to open up with," he said. "The players were really looking forward to getting back into competitive action last week, but no extra motivation is needed when it's a derby game. Both the players and myself are really looking forward to it."

Much has been made of players crossing Stanley Park in the past few months. Spence recruited twin sisters Kelly and Vicky Jones, while the likes of Natasha Dowie and Fara Williams opted for the fresh challenge of lifting a new-look Liverpool.

The moves add extra spice to the contest, which will be shown live on ESPN, but Spence says his side are equipped to deal with foes new and old.

He said: "There's a number of our former players who are now at Liverpool and vice-versa. Our girls will have worked with them, trained with them and played against them hundreds of times so there won't be any secrets from that point of view.

"They'll know what they're up against. We've done our preparation regardless. I'm sure there'll be plenty of banter after the game and there's a lot of good qualities in both sides so we just hope it'll be an entertaining game for the fans."

With players fresh from international duty - three of which helped lift the Cyprus Cup with England last week - the Blues are ready and raring to go as they prepare to compete for more silverware on three fronts.

"The spirit's been a really good feature of the pre-season," said Spence.

"There's been a lot of positivity amongst the group of players that we now have and that's contributed to a good pre-season. The girls who have gone away on international duty have got games under their belts - and the seniors have come back with a tournament win too, which is always good.

"So we hope they'll be able to harness that good vibe and now put their performances into the Everton games."

The derby kicks-off at 7.30pm at Halton Stadium, which is where Liverpool Ladies will be playing their home games this season. Admission on the day of the game is priced at just £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.

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