Willie Kirk believes his new-look Everton team boasts the tools to embark on a successful season as the Toffees prepare to begin the 2019/20 FA WSL campaign at Birmingham City on Sunday (2pm)
Everton head into the opening game on the back of an impressive pre-season which saw them win six of their seven friendly matches.
These results included an eye-catching win over Dutch giants Ajax in Amsterdam as the Blues won the NextGen Women's Series trophy.
Everton brought in six new players over during the summer transfer window, with Kirk’s recruits a mix of elite international footballers and exciting young talents.
Kirk, who was appointed Everton manager last December, said the pre-season period was invaluable as he strives to shape a dynamic, progressive Toffees team.
He is confident his players can transfer the quality they have shown on the training pitch and during their warm-up matches in Sunday’s clash at Birmingham.
“We’ve got a really strong squad – a stronger squad that we had last year,” he told evertontv.
“We’ve had very good preparation going into Sunday's game and most of our focus is on us and how we can affect the game.
🙌 | All the hard work comes down to tomorrow.— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) September 7, 2019
Getting in the mood with some goals from pre-season! 💪 pic.twitter.com/Rr4IrQJWvN
“We want to play on the front foot, dominate the ball, and play the game in their half. That’s what we want to take into every game this season.
“There is a real feeling of excitement. A wee bit of nerves, of course, but excitement in terms of seeing our pre-season work out on the pitch in a competitive WSL game.
“When the first whistle blows on Sunday, we need to control our emotions and put in a strong performance. If we do that, I think we can get a positive result."
Among the new faces in Everton’s squad are Finland’s former Bayern Munich goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela and defender Kika van Es, who was in the Netherlands squad that reached the World Cup final in France earlier this summer.
Kirk has bolstered his midfield ranks with the signings of France international Maeva Clemaron, Scotland’s Lucy Graham and England Under-19 player Molly Pike.
Defender Esme Morgan, who has also been capped by England at Under-19 level, has joined on loan from Manchester City.
“We wanted players who were technically competent and who tactically knew the game,” Kirk explained.
“We also wanted players who were open to learning, which is what we are all about. We want to be able to help make players better every day.
“We always meet the players [before signing them] to find out a little bit about their characters. We want to make sure they are good people and that they are going to bring strong values to the group in terms of humility, respect, bravery and commitment to the badge.
“They have all integrated the really well.”
Manager Kirk has revealed a new leadership structure within his squad. New arrival Graham has been named as team captain and will skipper the side on the pitch, while Everton Academy graduate Dan Turner will remain as Club captain.
Kirk believes Graham and Turner each boast the attributes to excel in their roles.
“Lucy has settled in really well, she has got immediate respect from her teammates,” said Kirk.
“She is very vocal on the pitch – she does it in a very demanding way but a very respectful way, too. I think she will fit the role perfectly.
“The way she plays is the way we want the team to play. We want the team to be entertaining, to score goals, to work hard, to win challenges and stand up to challenges. Lucy brings all of that.
“Our Club captain Dan has been at the club for a number of years and conducts herself impeccably on and off the park.
"She communicates the Club’s values.
“She is hugely important in how we present the Club off the pitch - but she will have a very important role on the pitch, too. She is a top, top full-back.”
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