Durham season preview: Promotion on the cards once again

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(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

After yet another season of coming agonisingly close to achieving promotion into the WSL as full-time Leicester City pipped them to the title last campaign Durham will be looking to go one better this season.

Durham have kept the majority of their squad from last season and a lot of their players have been together for several years now which is clear to see when they step out on the pitch and are constantly challenging at the top of the league.

Considering Durham were beaten to the top spot once again, fears about Beth Hepple’s future were rife, but the midfielder who came through the club’s academy has committed to another season at Maiden Castle.

Expectations

Durham are still only part-time which automatically puts them behind other sides, but fans will be expecting to see their side fighting at the top end of the able.

The Wildcats have a host of quality players at Championship level as well as experience of knowing how to ground out results and also put teams to the sword which should see them fighting it out at the top.

Being able to play in front of fans for the first time in 18 months should also give Durham an extra push over the line in certain games so there should be no surprise to see Hepple leading the way in goals and assists as the Wildcats push some of the bigger clubs.

Player to watch out for

As previously mentioned, Hepple is the star of Durham’s side having racked up the most appearances for the club as well as being their all-time top scorer with 70 goals.

Hepple is a player that is capable of creating something out of nothing, whether that be for herself or another teammate and the way she likes to both pick the ball up deep and glide between the lines makes her so difficult to mark.

Not just a wizard from open play, Hepple is deadly from dead-ball situations with her free-kicks catching numerous keepers out over the years and expect this season to be no different.

If Hepple turns up and balls out like the Championship knows she can, Durham will be in a great place to push for the title.

Season prediction

With some good additions like former Albanian international Liz Ejupi and Ali Johnson, the latter joined at the back end of last campaign, Durham should have confidence heading into the new season.

A great way to head into a new season with confidence is with a 9-0 win, which Durham did against Newcastle but it may be that the Wildcats fall just short once again.

It appears that Liverpool could be the team to stop with players such as Carla Humphrey, Melissa Lawley and Leanne Kiernan all possessing great talents that may be above the Championship.

It would be no shame for Durham to finish another season in the top three as they will have then finished above one of Liverpool, Bristol City or Sheffield United, which is a great achievement for a part-time side.

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