Casey Stoney: I understand need to reassess England captaincy

Casey Stoney

England and Arsenal defender Casey Stoney is writing a regular column for the BBC Sport website.

Here she gives her thoughts on the new England head coach Mark Sampson and why she decided to rejoin Arsenal Ladies.

Christmas is usually regarded as the busiest period of the football calendar in England and even though the Women's Super League is halfway through its off-season, there has been no let-up in the speed of change sweeping through the game.

Mark Sampson has been appointed as the new England manager, and there have been a huge number of transfers, with no fewer than nine members of his squad on the move - including my own switch from Lincoln to Arsenal.

It was a relatively quiet Christmas for me as I continue to recover from a foot operation which will mean I miss out on the England training camp in La Manga later this month, but I got the chance to meet Mark in December.

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I already know him a little from playing against his former team Bristol but it was refreshing to sit down and get to know each other face to face. We talked about his visions for the future, whether I was in his plans, and what he wants and expects from his players. It was all positive.

Mark also said he was going to reassess the captaincy, which I absolutely understand.

Being the captain of your country is the biggest honour and something that I dreamed of as a young girl and that I would love to continue with - but I have to accept that he might want something different. All I can do is get fit, work hard, play well for my club and see what happens.

He already knew I wasn't going to La Manga, but he now knows I will be back training in a few weeks fighting for selection for the Cyprus Cup in March and Arsenal's Champions League quarter-final against Birmingham to give myself the best chance of being selected.

He is a different person to former boss Hope Powell, and has a different approach, so it will be interesting. Having spoken to him, I'm excited about the prospect of working with him.

It is also great that one of my role models growing up, Marieanne Spacey, has been appointed as assistant coach to the national team and I'm really happy that Brent Hills got the elite development role as he has got great experience in the development of younger players.

Keeping myself in Mark's thoughts was one of the reasons I moved to Arsenal.

They might have finished third in last season's Women's Super League but they still won the FA Cup and Continental Cup, so they are not going anywhere and are one of the biggest names in women's football.

The decision rested on playing in a team which is competing for silverware and, although I had a fantastic three years at Lincoln, finishing sixth out of eight teams in the league last season was disappointing.

Arsenal have lost some key players - Scotland international midfielder Kim Little, England defender Steph Houghton and England striker Ellen White - but it doesn't worry me at all. Being part of a side that is rebuilding again is the kind of challenge I relish.

I went down to London to meet manager Shelley Kerr and I think one of the main draws for me was the plans they have in place for the future. I was very impressed with her and the set-up, so I think it's a fantastic option and I'm really excited to rejoin the Gunners.

I began my career at Arsenal in 1999, where in addition to playing, I worked in the laundry washing the likes of Dennis Bergkamp's underpants.

I don't think I'll be doing that this time and it just shows you how far the game has come. This time we will be training four evenings a week, with two sessions during the day. They will look after our strength and conditioning as well so the only thing I will need to worry about is playing football and performing. That is all I want to do.

Arsenal might be going through a transition period but they still want to dominate the women's game as they have done in the past, so it wasn't a massively hard decision.

With Manchester City making a real statement as they come into the top division for the first time, and Liverpool looking to strengthen their position after winning the league last year, it is already looking like an exciting season ahead and I can't wait to get going again.

Casey Stoney was talking to BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan

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