Everton Ladies forward Chloe Kelly says Everton “are not scared of anyone” as the Blue Girls prepare to kick off their FA Women’s Super League campaign at Birmingham City on Sunday (2pm).
Kelly is eagerly anticipating the new season, with the Toffees' confidence boosted by a pre-season tournament victory in the Netherlands.
The 21-year-old was awarded Player of the Match in the final of the NexGen Women's Series Trophy against Dutch giants Ajax.
Ankle surgery saw Kelly ruled out of the final months of last season but, having returned to full training in July, she could make her competitive football comeback at Birmingham this weekend.
The talented attacker is relishing her return to WSL action and is confident the Blue Girls can enjoy a successful campaign.
“The first week back [after injury] my touch was a bit rusty,” she said. “But now I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things.
“When I was out, I worked hard in the gym and now I'm a stronger player for doing it.
“I want to score goals and get as many assists as I can this season.
“I don’t think we can shy away from the fact there are some big teams in our league, but I think we’re just as good as them and we can prove to the league that we are a good team.
“We've shown in NextGen tournament that we can play. We're not scared of anyone now.”
Kelly’s optimism ahead of the new campaign is boosted by the strong team spirit within the squad.
She explains that this togetherness has been further enhanced during pre-season, with Toffees manager Willie Kirk having taken the group on a three-day team bonding camp in Colomendy, Wales.
As well as kayaking, climbing and orienteering, the team also tried out a 3G swing. The swing sees participants hoisted high up into the air, they then pull a ripcord and swing back and forth before landing.
Kelly said: “Some players were really scared of it - myself being one of them!
“But the team get you through it because you see everyone else doing it and you don't want to be the one to let everyone down.”
She added: “I think it's the case on the pitch as well. It [the match] may uncomfortable at times but people getting you through it.”
Having initially been loaned to Everton from last season's WSL winners Arsenal, Kelly made her switch from London to Merseyside permanent in January 2018. Since then, she has registered nine goals in 34 appearances for the Blues.
Kelly - who comes from a large, close-knit family in West London - set out her ambition to help Everton achieve trophy success in the capital in the future.
"I want to get to Wembley, to a cup final, and bring some silverware home," she added.
“We’re really excited for the new season to start now."