Casey Stoney: Arsenal Ladies sign England captain

Casey Stoney

England captain Casey Stoney has left Lincoln Ladies to join Arsenal on a two-year deal.

The 31-year-old spent three years at Lincoln but has returned to her former club in a bid to win silverware with the Gunners, who lifted this year's FA Cup and Continental Cup.

"Arsenal are one of the biggest names in women's football and it was about being competitive again," said Stoney.

The deal is subject to a medical as Stoney recovers from a foot operation.

Arsenal finished third in last season's FA Women's Super League (WSL) behind winners Liverpool and runners-up Bristol Academy but they are the most successful team in the English game and won the WSL in 2011 and 2012.

Lincoln struggled last season, with a sixth-placed finish their worst showing since the WSL began in 2011.

They are relocating to Nottingham next season to become Notts County Ladies.

The signing of Stoney, who returns to the club where she began her career, follows the addition of England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain, who

But the Gunners have lost Scotland midfielder Kim Little to American team Seattle Reign and Ellen White to Notts County, with former Arsenal defender where she joins fellow England internationals Jill Scott, Toni Duggan and Karen Bardsley.

Although Stoney had an offer from Liverpool and was in talks with Manchester City, she said Arsenal provided the best package. And she is confident she will be fit for the Gunners' Champions League quarter-final against Birmingham in March following the operation.

"I don't think I've been competitive for the three years at Lincoln," added Stoney.

"I'm not getting any younger and I want to win trophies. Arsenal have lost a few players so it is another challenge for me to become part of a side that is rebuilding again."

The centre-back, who has 116 England caps, also hopes the move will help her retain the England captaincy, with new boss Mark Sampson yet to make a decision on his skipper.

Stoney, who is the first female member of the Professional Footballers' Association's management committee, will miss England's training camp in La Manga later this month as she recovers from her injury, but she has already met Sampson and been assured she is part of his plans.

She added: "I owe a lot to Lincoln - I had a fantastic three years there. When I decided to leave it was difficult, because Rick Passmoor is a brilliant manager, but I had to make a decision that was right for me at this time of my life."

The WSL will split into two divisions for the first time next season, with fixtures expected to start in March.

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