Richard Laverty previews each team before the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL 1) Spring Series begins on April 22.
Only maybe Sunderland have had a tougher winter than Notts County. Tasked with several winding-up orders from the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), new owner Alan Hardy has managed to buy himself enough time to get the men’s season out of the way before dealing with the outstanding debts left at Meadow Lane.
It’s not been much better on the football side of things, the squad is thin on the ground after the departures of key players such as Sophie Bradley, Ellen White, and Jess Clarke while the club have largely had to rely on free transfers ahead of the Spring Series.
Where to Find Notts
Meadow Lane, Nottingham
With a wealth of experience behind him and a familiarity with many of the players still left at Meadow Lane, few are better trained to steer Notts County through these difficult times than Rick Passmoor. The manager has remained upbeat publicly about County’s future and he may find himself with extra breathing space thanks to Sunderland’s decision to go part-time this year.
The former England defender missed large parts of last season through injury but might be one of the most underrated center backs in the league. Notts is strong at the back with the experienced Laura Bassett and Amy Turner coming back from injury for the winter league, but Whelan’s return to full fitness will provide a much-needed boost for Notts.
Many didn’t expect Notts to be able to hold on to England duo Jo Potter and Jade Moore when the club’s financial situation came to light over the winter but both signed extensions and Potter in particular can play a key role this year. Able to play as a defender, midfielder, or even an attacking midfielder, Potter’s experience, versatility, and quality is right what Notts need at the moment.
With Jess Clarke and Ellen White having departed Meadow Lane, a lot of the responsibility for goals will now fall on the shoulders of new signing Kirsty Linnett. Linnett left Birmingham with a bang thanks to a hat trick on the final day and her new boss will hope there’s plenty more of that to come when the Spring Series kicks off next week.
One to Watch
Now into her mid-twenties, Aileen Whelan has rarely had a regular chance to show her blossoming talent at Meadow Lane but now armed with a full-time contract, it will be interesting to see how Whelan progresses throughout the season. With Clarke and White gone, Whelan can expect more game time than usual and it’s a real chance for her to stamp her authority on a starting spot.
The start of the winter wasn’t a complete disaster for Notts; Aivi Luik returned to Australia while both Sophie Bradley and Sophie Walton were allowed to leave the club on free transfers but Notts quickly tied down the likes of Moore, Potter, and Rachel Williams to new deals. Those deals were followed by new contracts for several more key players but Ellen White departed for Birmingham with Linnett coming the other way.
Several more signings have followed. Former Reading duo Shelly Provan and Bianca Bragg signed along with center back Louise Quinn but there was a further blow last week as long-term Lady Magpie Jess Clarke departed for a new challenge at Liverpool.