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Blackburn captain Denise Campbell has confirmed that she is taking time out from first team duty in order to start a family.
Denise, and partner Matt Pilkington, are expecting their first child in May next year.
Despite her absence from the field, Denise hopes to attend as many matches as possible and offer her support from the sidelines and she is targeting a return to action at the start of next season.
"I played the first three games and things were going really well," said the midfielder. "Then I found out that I was pregnant, so stopped straight away
"I was a bit gutted that my season had ended early, but obviously made up that I was going to be having a baby.
"I've stayed in touch with the girls and tried to watch them as often as I can. I hope to be back in time for pre-season, with a view to being fit for the start of next season.
"A lot of people have been asking me if I've retired, but I'm only 32, so hopefully I've got a few more seasons left in me yet.
"I've spoken to Scott (manager Scott Rogers) - he wants me back and I want to come back. I'm in my sixth season here, having only played for Tranmere being coming to Rovers and I would never go anywhere else."
Following their relegation from the Premier League last season, Rovers currently find themselves in mid-table, nine points adrift of league leaders Sporting Club Albion.
However, Denise is optimistic about what the future holds. "Realistically, we're not going to be playing top-flight football next season, but it will probably do us good to stick together and have another year in the Northern Division," she added.
"We're like a big family and I'm the mum of the family - literally! We can't offer players much money, but we can offer a great team spirit, where we all work hard for each other and that's one of our main attractions.
"With myself and Rhiannon Roberts both to come back, if we can keep the likes of Katie Anderton fit and at the club next season, that's an experienced spine to the team and coupled with the exciting youngsters we've got coming through, I'm confident we can gain promotion next year."
Scott praised his club captain for the role she's played both on and off the pitch. He said: "Denise is a massive player for us. When you build a team, to lose your captain three games in and lose all the experience that she offers us, it's been a major contributing factor as to why we're not sitting at the top of the table.
"She drives people on and she's a massive influence on the young players, who really look up to her.
"We've missed her bite and aggression in midfield, but she's always supported the team. She's not left and we want her to stay on next year and resume the captaincy.
"By no means is this a criticism of the way Hannah Forster has captained the team in her absence. Hannah is still a young player herself and has done a terrific job. She's stepped in and stepped up to the mark, which I never doubted for a second that she wouldn't."
Denise added: "She would probably admit herself that she isn't a natural leader, but Hannah has done great and played really well herself.
"She is one of the girls I've watched progress and develop into a very talented player over the past four or five years. I know that she's looking forward to handing the armband back to me when I return, so that she can concentrate on her own game."
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