Steph Houghton admits she’s eyeing silverware with Manchester City after missing out on the FA WSL trophy on the last day of the season last term.
Champions Chelsea pipped Nick Cushing’s side by just two points as the title race went down to the wire but City were the standout team in the second half of 2015.
City and England captain Houghton is determined not to finish this season empty-handed as they look to build on their 2014 Continental Cup glory.
She said: “In the second half of 2015 we were fantastic. We were so close but we got the Champions League spot, which was great for the club. The spine of the team was missing so much before the World Cup, so if we keep everyone fit then we’ve got a real chance this season.
“The players we’ve brought in to improve the squad over the winter are a credit to themselves. You have to say well done to the manager, they’ve fitted in so well so far. It will improve us.”
Houghton has reason to be optimistic ahead of the upcoming Abu Dhabi tour on February 17th after City beat Champions League quarter-finalists FC Rosengard 3-1 in their pre-season opener at the weekend.
The 27-year-old – who scored City’s final goal – impressed at the back with Abbie McManus and Republic of Ireland international Megan Campbell, who is currently on trial from Florida State University.
With Jennifer Beattie now set to link up with the squad after ending her loan spell with Melbourne City in Australia, City have plenty of defensive options and Houghton reckons their best is yet to come.
She admitted: “We’ve all been chomping at the bit to get back here and play some football.
“That level of performance was fantastic; everyone says not to look at results in pre-season but to us it is a little bit of a confidence boost to put in that kind of performance against top opposition.
“We’ve got things we can work on but Nick will be really pleased and excited with how we played – we’re not even near our potential yet.
“We’ve only been training for a few weeks, we’re nowhere near our peak, but to play against one of the best sides in Europe is positive because we know we’ve still so much more to give.
“The last few pre-seasons we haven’t had that top-class opposition and we needed that experience with Champions League football coming up. To test myself against some top attackers was really important too.”
City now head to Abu Dhabi next Wednesday where they will face W-League champions Melbourne City. Whilst a side consisting of international players will prove another tough test, skipper Houghton is looking forward to time away with the squad.
She added: “Last year our tour was really successful and this year we’ll be playing a really good friendly, so that’s really encouraging for us heading out there.
“It’s another strong team and it’ll probably be tough conditions but it’s always good to get away and have some time to bond, too.”