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Ellen Maggs made one of the surprise moves of the summer when joining Birmingham City from Arsenal, where she had been a prominent member of the 'double' winning side last season. The 21-year-old England international has revealed to Women's Soccer Scene that the decision to sign for the ambitious Blues was a far from easy one.
"It was a massive decision," admits Ellen. "It took me a long time, most of the pre-season in fact, before I finally committed myself. But I think I needed the right move to get myself a chance of winning an England place as that is my biggest aim, particularly with the European Championships next year.
"I spoke to Marcus Bignot and was impressed with his plans, everything he said was what I wanted to do. He has got a lot of faith and belief in me and this was proved by their efforts to sign me - the people who run this club want to take them to a higher level and I want to go with them."
However Ellen is quick to point out that expectations should not be set too high, too early. "The first year is the toughest - everyone has to come together this season. I'd be disappointed if we're not there or thereabouts at the end of the season but realistically we are looking at the top three.
"I am not saying we cannot win a trophy though, we may have a great chance in the Cup. You actually get more publicity for winning the FA Cup than winning the league as it is the biggest game of the season, but the league's the one you want to win as that proves you are the best team.
The likes of Rachel Yankey and Amanda Barr are great signings, but others like Jo Fletcher, Heather Scheuber, Jo Potter and Alex Scott could also turn out to be really good ones as well. Karen Carney is a tremendous player, I didn't realise how good she was until I saw her in training! We can't wait for the season to start."
Birmingham's first game this Sunday is a trip to newly promoted Bristol City, and Ellen admits that they will be a largely unknown quantity. "We know they did well last season in winning the league and Rachel McArthur is a great signing for them as she is a really good player. We're not going to underestimate them - everyone's got as good a chance as everyone else in this league and we won't be taking them lightly."
As with a number of her new team mates, Ellen will be staying on in Bristol after the game to join up with the England squad who are playing Russia at the Memorial Stadium the following Thursday. "For me, it was a surprise to be in there as a few have come out and I thought I might be joining them, but I must be doing something right!" she laughs. "I'm looking forward to it but a bit nervous as well, as maybe it is a last chance for me. But hopefully I can do well and have two chances to impress, playing for the under-21s as well."
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