Kirstie Levell says “there is no messing about” when it comes to the battle for the Everton Ladies number one jersey.
The Centre of Excellence graduate has cemented her place as the Blue Girls’ starting goalkeeper after supplanting former Toffees keeper Lizzie Durack last season.
The arrival of Scotland youth international Becky Flaherty this summer has increased competition between the sticks, with the 20-year-old making her debut in the win over Reading in the Continental Cup.
Levell, like Flaherty this season, was the ‘cup keeper’ during the previous campaign but her form as Everton reached the quarters and semi-finals respectively of the Continental and FA Cups saw her take over in the league.
She is therefore is all too aware that she needs to be on top of her game to retain her place as the Toffees’ last line of defence.
“There is a real element of competition about our relationship,” she said. “As soon as we are out on the training pitch we are focused. We want to push each other as hard as we can. We don’t mess about in our goalkeeping sessions.
“When it comes to cup games – and I initially only played in those last season – there is always that extra fire in the team to go out and prove ourselves. I was really happy for Becky and the team to pick up a win over a very good Reading side.
“She’ll get a few more chances in the cups this season and of course I am hoping she can get as many clean sheets as she can.
“The decision [over who plays] comes down to whoever is performing in training.”
Levell was in goal for the 0-0 draw against Chelsea last time out, a hugely impressive result given the plethora of international attacking talent within the squad of the reigning WSL champions.
The 21-year-old points at the competition for places within the ranks as the catalyst for such a good performance. She says that is pushing every player on to make sure they are in the starting line-up when Everton resume their league campaign on Saturday against Brighton.
“I was very happy with that result against Chelsea,” added Levell. “Keeping a clean sheet against a side like them is fantastic. They are what you work hard in training for every week.
“I am proud of the performance from the back five. We made a couple of changes to the team and those players came in and showed why they should be playing. They did a really good job in front of me.
“It is great to see that competition for places. It has not been like that for us in the past but now you have six, seven, even eight players who can play in the defensive positions, especially now we play with wing-backs.
“Everyone knows you have to perform in training to make sure you are in the team on game day.
“We have a good run of games coming up and hopefully we can take as many points as we can. We know we can’t take any team in this league for granted.
“Last season we were guilty of raising our game against the big sides and then dropping points to others. We have to maintain our consistency as much as we can.”
Tickets are available for Everton Ladies' clash with Brighton at Southport's Merseyrail Community Stadium here.