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The future is looking brighter for Birmingham City after coming through a season of turmoil, battling relegation until a four-match winning run confirmed their safety.
Laura Bassett played a huge part in ensuring that her club finished in sixth place last season and the Blues' inspirational captain is more than satisfied with their preparations ahead of the new campaign. "We've had a good pre-season so far, everything has gone to plan," Laura told Women's Soccer Scene. "Our friendlies are going well so hopefully we'll have a better start this time.
"We're aiming to match the same position as last year - that was a great achievement for us as we had a good end to the season. Hopefully we'll have a good Cup run this year as well."
Birmingham will go into the new season without England winger Karen Carney, who has moved on to Arsenal, but Laura is confident that her presence will not leave a huge gap. "We wish Kaz all the best at Arsenal, she's moved on hopefully to bigger and better things," she says. "But all the new players from the Midlands are settling in well and we'll have a good team spirit."
One of the new arrivals at Birmingham this season is England under-19 striker Becky Hall, who has made the move from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Becky can also play on the right wing but stresses she is not a direct replacement for Karen Carney. "I'll play anywhere, I don't care - as long as I get a game I don't mind really," she smiles.
"I'm really excited - it's the first time I have played away from my sister (twin Natalie) so it's a bit scary, but I'll be alright. It's a step I think I needed to take and I'll see how it goes."
Becky is also hopeful that playing at the top level will cement her place in the England fold. "It's my last year with the under-19s so I'm hoping to push on to the under-21s," she says. "We had a great win against Sweden at the end of last season - Sweden are always in the European Championships and we beat them 3-0 - so hopefully we can go on from there this year."
Birmingham's first match of the season is against Sunderland and Laura admits that it is an important one for her team. "I don't know anything about how Sunderland's pre-season has gone, we're just concentrating on our own, which is what we must do," she reveals. "We need to get off to a better start this year, so we'll be gunning for all three points in our first match."
You can watch the full interview with Laura Bassett and Becky Hall on our TV Channel!
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