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Spurs Women update – New striker, new captain, kit numbers

A quick update ahead of Spurs’ season opener on October 1.

Manchester United Women v Tottenham Hotspur Women: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Charlotte Tattersall - MUFC/Manchester United via Getty Images

It’s been a bit since we updated everyone on Tottenham Hotspur Women, and a fair bit has happened in the past week, so a quick update post is warranted ahead of the first match of the WSL season, which is away to Chelsea on Sunday, October 1.

First, Spurs have a new signing! After Spurs signed attacking midfielder Zhang Linyan on loan, a lot of fans (myself included) wondered how, or even if, Tottenham would fill the giant Bethany England-sized hole at striker in the early part of this season. England underwent corrective surgery a couple of weeks ago and will be out of the side for an undisclosed period of time.

Now we know. Last week, on the deadline day for the transfer window for women’s football in England, Spurs announced the signing of 27-year old striker Martha Thomas from Manchester United on a two year contract.

Thomas was a regular starter at West Ham, with 4 goals and 2 assists in 1400 minutes in 2020-21 before moving to United the following season and sliding into a reserve role. Last season she was used mostly as a late match substitute and increasingly as a right winger; she had 1 goal and two assists in 408 minutes, starting only once in 20 appearances. She should get a lot more time at Spurs this season, at least initially — at minimum you can say she’s a legitimate striker and will probably be Spurs’ starting forward until England recovers and rounds into fitness. Until that happens, Thomas and Ellie Brazil will likely be Spurs’ primary options at the 9 position, after the departure of Nikola Karczewska.

Speaking of England, new manager Robert Vilahamn named his captains earlier in the week and to nobody’s surprise the armband was handed to Bethany. She replaces Shelina Zadorsky as club captain, with Molly Bartrip and Olga Ahtinen serving as vice captains.

In the announcement on Tottenham’s website, Vilahamn said this about his new captain:

“Bethany is a true professional who always gives her best and demands the best from her environment. She’s a winner and a great role model for others as she always puts the team first. Together with this, she is a very humble person who treats everyone with respect, which makes her the perfect leader and ambassador for Tottenham Hotspur. Molly and Olga are very similar to Bethany as they are very professional footballers who perform and demand excellence in everything they do, both on and off the field, and at the same time they always treat people with respect. They always want to develop and with their great leadership qualities, they set an example for the team to follow.”

I have to say that while I’m not surprised that Tottenham’s new manager has opted to shake up the leadership in a season of transition — Ange Postecoglou did the same thing with the men’s team and it’s worked out pretty well so far — I am a little surprised that Ashleigh Neville wasn’t included in the leadership team. We don’t know the rationale behind it (or if Neville was considered or even wanted the role) but as one of the more prominent members of the playing squad I kind of expected Ash to be at least vice-captain. Hard to fault the choice of England, though.

While most of us were still basking in the afterglow of the men’s team’s dramatic home victory over Sheffield United, Tottenham Women were playing in a behind-closed-doors friendly Sunday afternoon against Manchester United at St. George’s Park. The match ended as a 1-0 loss to United from a 26’ goal from Lucia Garcia.

It’s hard to glean much of anything from a friendly game that you couldn’t watch, but it does appear that nearly every Spurs player of note got match time in this one apart from Eleanor Heeps and Shelina Zadorsky.

Afterwards, Vilahamn talked through a couple of encouraging takeaways from the preseason loss.

“I think we had a good game. Of course, you don’t want to lose these games but I feel like we’re taking steps. Man United were second in the league last year and they are running for the Champions League and we could still dictate the game and create really good chances.

“Of course we need to start scoring goals but I feel like we’re taking steps every week and the players are showing me that they really want to play this style of football. I’m kind of pleased even though I’m not happy with the loss.

“[United] scored on a goal that we basically gave them, but that’s okay because we want to play that kind of game and we need to make those kinds of mistakes early so we know how to deal with them. I’m fine with that, they need to keep going. You saw in the second half that they had really good possession and they didn’t take the ball [away], right? And I don’t think they had more than two shots on goal and we had six or seven. So I think it’s a good performance.”

Finally, this morning Spurs Women announced their final registered squad with kit numbers. The biggest change is Bethany England taking the #9 shirt from the departed Nikola Karczewska and new keeper Barbora Votikova claiming the #1 kit from Tinja-Riikka Korpela. No other current player changed numbers from last season.

  • 1 Barbora Votíková
  • 3 Shelina Zadorsky
  • 4 Amy Turner
  • 5 Molly Bartrip
  • 7 Jessica Naz
  • 8 Grace Clinton
  • 9 Bethany England
  • 10 Ellie Brazil
  • 11 Ramona Petzelberger
  • 12 Ria Percival
  • 13 Asmita Ale
  • 14 Celin Bizet Ildhusøy
  • 15 Angharad James
  • 16 Kit Graham
  • 17 Martha Thomas
  • 18 Zhang Linyan
  • 20 Olga Ahtinen
  • 21 Luana Bühler
  • 22 Rebecca Spencer
  • 23 Rosella Ayane
  • 24 Drew Spence
  • 25 Eveliina Summanen
  • 26 Gracie Pearse
  • 27 Eleanor Heeps
  • 29 Ashleigh Neville