Coventry United expect 'tougher' Women's Premier League season

Women's Premier League
Sheffield FC pipped Coventry to the third tier league title last season

New first-team boss Michael Foy expects a tougher challenge for Coventry United in this year's Women's Premier League.

The new season starts on Sunday with Coventry now in the Southern Division to balance the leagues geographically.

The club finished second in the Northern Division last term under ex-boss Craig Nicholls before merging with non-league men's side Coventry United.

"No disrespect to the clubs in the north, but the standard of football will be tougher," Foy told BBC Sport.

"Every club will have strengthened.

"In terms of the way the girls want to play football, it will suit them, and travelling won't be a problem."

Before being similarly switched to the Northern Division last year, Coventry won the WPL Southern Division title in 2013-14.

They will now face competition from last year's Southern champions Portsmouth and Women's FA Cup quarter-finalists Charlton, as well as Brighton & Hove Albion and a number of other improving sides, for the Southern Division title.

"We'll definitely be in the mix come the end of the season," continued Foy. "It will be a long, hard season.

"Any team that beats us can expect to be up there. We'll be very difficult to beat."

The winners of the Northern and Southern Divisions will meet in a promotion play-off at the end of the season for a place in the Women's Super League.

Irishman Foy, formerly the head coach of Loughborough University men's team, was appointed in July following Nicholls' resignation in June.

"When it was offered to me, it was a no-brainer," said Foy. "We have a strong core group of players.

"I want to try to help them progress and create a winning formula."

Coventry host West Ham United in their first game of the season at The Oval - the home of Bedworth United - on Sunday at 14:00 BST.