Hightown aim high in Europe

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Hightown, the defending champions, start the women's league season with a trip south to Clifton on Sunday with their sights set on European success at the end of the season. Having won every domestic honour, they now want to win the European Club Championship.

Their manager, Monica Rooney, does not mean them to surrender their league title easily, but she said: "We intend to use the season to develop around the younger players."

While the new captain, Tina Cullen, will be without her Olympic colleague Chris Cook, who is having a prolonged rest, and also Jackie Crook, she will be able to call upon England's Under-21 captain and newly appointed RAF officer, Lucy Newcombe. Clifton will be missing the Britain and Wales defender Charlotte Merrett who has moved to Sutton Canada Life.

Slough have spent the summer busy recruiting. First a new coach, John Shaw, who said yesterday: "The squad react well and are very keen and have accepted an additional training session tomorrow. I will be different for them."

On the playing front Ireland's World Cup captain, Sarah Kelleher, and the Great Britain defender Lucy Cope have joined the club but will not be available for the opening games. Nor will the Olympian Anna Bennett, who is recovering from injury but the captain, Sue Chandler, recently back in training, is expected to play along with Jane Smith, from Ipswich.

Slough open their campaign against Balsam Leicester who, in spite of a squad of highly capable players, found it hard to get their act together last season.