Women's Super League: Bassett wants improvements

Laura Bassett

Birmingham Ladies captain Laura Bassett says her side must raise their standards if they want to be FA Women's Super League title contenders.

Blues' were FAWSL runners-up to Arsenal in 2011 and 2012 but have drawn their opening two league games of the season against Chelsea and Lincoln.

Bassett's team also suffered a 6-0 FA Women's Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of the Gunners.

"We need to work out why we're under performing," Bassett told BBC Sport.

The Birmingham players were kept in the dressing room for more than an hour after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Lincoln for a team meeting, as manager David Parker tried to iron out the reasons for their sluggish start to the campaign.

Ahead of the season they lost high-profile striker Eniola Aluko to Chelsea and allowed last season's top scorer, Jodie Taylor, to join Swedish club Gothenburg on loan.

England defender Bassett, 29, added: "I think the quality of the league and standard of the league has improved.

"You have to earn the right to play and make your quality count. I don't think we've made the right decisions at the right times and we haven't been defending well enough.

"Over the past two seasons we've been hard to beat. Everyone used to say how organised we were and we need to get back to those days."

To counter the impact of big-name players leaving the club, forwards Melissa Lawley, Katie Wilkinson and Kirsty Linnett have been recruited this season from Bristol Academy, Aston Villa and Arsenal respectively.

Former England youth international Linnett says the squad have to re-group after their two-week break of fixtures before the Continental Cup match at Bristol in May.

"To get two draws is not good enough and we all know that," said the 19-year-old. "We know we've got the quality to be in the top-two but we just need to pull it together quickly."

In contrast to Birmingham, Lincoln were pleased to claim their first point of the season.

The Lady Imps started the league season with a 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, but now look forward to an FA Cup semi-final with Bristol Academy on Sunday.

England winger Jess Clarke, who opened the scoring against Birmingham, believes their season will go from strength to strength.

"We were disappointed last week against Liverpool," said the 23-year-old. "It wasn't our best performance and it just shows we can bounce back.

"You can see that in the performance against Birmingham and we're in the semi-final of the FA Cup. It's about building blocks. We're getting a strong side together and continuing to push on."

The BBC is showing the FAWSL for the first time this season, with four highlights programmes, plus there will also be live coverage of Euro 2013 this summer. The BBC Sport website will also also keep you up to date with all the latest news and scores.

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