Plucky defender Casey Stoney has just been announced in the second intake for th
Plucky defender Casey Stoney has just been announced in the second intake for the Women's National Player Development Centre at Loughborough, but that is not the only big change that she is undergoing as the new season approaches. The 20-year-old England star has also just signed for Charlton Athletic, the London rivals of her former club Arsenal. Stoney had won every major domestic honour with The Gunners but felt that it was time for her to move on.
"I've nothing against Arsenal, or Vic Akers and the rest of the management" admits Stoney. "It was just I was playing for my country, then going back to my club and sometimes sitting on the bench. I was training as hard as everyone was but you need the game at the end to strive for and sometimes I wasn't getting that."
Stoney, who started in the recent England friendly against Nigeria, did not take the decision to move lightly as there were a number of other clubs interested in her. But it was the opportunity to improve her game with The Addicks that swayed her decision.
"I spoke to people and got the general idea about the club - everyone was positive about Charlton. The coaching there is excellent. Keith Boanas, the manager, and Kenny Bremner have both got their A licence and my game will certainly start to improve again and that is a big positive for me."
"The intention is to go for the top spot this year. I think if everybody works hard it's not out of our reach. It's going to be more difficult because of Fulham, who are a professional team, but we only have two games against them a year and if we play well we nick the six points. It is possible but we have to be at the top of our game. Fulham aren't unbeatable and they are not invincible. Arsenal beat them two years ago. They played them last season and only lost 3-2 in a very tight game. Everybody has bad days so hopefully someone can stop them."
The England defender was also very excited about starting at the NPDC at Loughborough in September. She will join her new team-mates Amanda Barr and Alexa Hunn at the Centre and Stoney is looking forward to the challenge of combining football with studying for a YMCA Personal Trainer qualification.
"I'm excited about it. It's like going professional without the money. I've never had the chance to train every day, but now I'll be training twice a day and do a course to get a qualification too. I've signed up for just one year but if I want to make it two I can. If I like it, I'll carry on going there. It will help my game in the long run."
So the coming season will see Stoney in two new environments but it is on the pitch that she feels comfortable and that is where she will be spending most of her time at the NPDC. The mature-headed 20-year-old will also be receiving the best of coaching and her development over the next year could see her cementing the right back spot in the England team, something that she acknowledges. "I've started in two World Cup qualifiers now but there are no guarantees of starting another game. I've just got to work hard and give myself the best chance of starting and keep that starting spot for as long as possible."