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How are Newly Promoted Bristol City Preparing for the WSL?

Bristol City won the women's Championship last season, granting them promotion to the top-tier of women's football in England for the 23/24 season. They face a tough battle to stay up otherwise they will be forced back to the Championship once again.

To prepare for their 23/24 campaign in the Women's Super League, Bristol City signed nine players and let go of ten players. Was this enough to prepare them for the challenges of the WSL?

Who have Bristol City signed?

Bristol City signed nine players during the summer transfer window, with a mix of permanent and loan deals. Who are they and which of these nine will make an impact at Bristol City?

Megan Connolly

Megan Connolly signed her first professional contract with WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion in January 2019 and stayed at the club until her departure to Bristol City this summer.

During her time at Brighton, Connolly reached the back of the net of four occasions and made a total of 58 WSL appearances.

She will be a brilliant midfield addition to the club, with plenty of international and WSL experience under her belt.

In the early stages of her football career, Megan Connolly played for Florida State Seminoles at Florida State University. In her first season at Florida, she scored nine goals and contributed ten assists, playing a pivotal role in the success of her side during the 2015 ACC Women's Soccer Tournament.

Connolly was named as Ireland's Under 19 Women International Player of the Year for her outstanding performances at the 2014 UEFA Women's Under 19 Championship.

Megan Connolly was in the starting XI in all of Ireland's matches during the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, where they played Australia, Canada and Nigeria. She helped Ireland to gain their first ever point in a World Cup tournament after drawing with Nigeria.

Connolly will use her WSL and international experience to help teach Bristol City's young and lesser-experienced players, developing the team into a strong squad who will fight to keep their place in the WSL.

Amalie Thestrup

Amalie Thestrup began her career at Danish side Brondby IF, where she won the Elitedivisionen (the top-flight of women's football in Denmark) in 2015 and 2017, and the Danish Cup in 2015 and 2017.

Thestrup made her debut for the Danish international team in 2019 against China.

Amalie Thestrup signed for then-Championship club Liverpool for their 20/21 campaign, reaching the back of the net four times.

She then went on to sign for Dutch side PSV in 2021, helping them to finish third in the Eredivisie (the top-flight of women's football in The Netherlands).

Thestrup went on loan to WSL-side West Ham United for the second-half of the 22/23 season, gaining game-time in the WSL and the Conti Cup.

Thestrup has gained valuable experience in the top-flight of women's football in Denmark, England and The Netherlands, as well as in the second-tier of English football. She will be a great attacking asset to Bristol City for their WSL campaign.

Brooke Aspin

Brooke Aspin played for Bristol City during their 22/23 Championship campaign that saw them achieve promotion to the WSL for 23/24.

Aspin signed for Chelsea this summer, but was then loaned back to the Robins on a season-long loan, so can continue with them throughout their new WSL campaign.

At international level, Aspin has represented England across different age groups at youth level. She played for the Lionesses' Under 17s, Under 18s and Under 19s, even captaining the Under 19s side.

She grew up playing in Bristol City's academy, progressing at a fast-rate, making her debut for the Robins at the age of 16.

Although suffering from an injury last season, Aspin returned in time to help Bristol City achieve promotion with a 4-0 win at Ashton Gate, where she scored a header.

Brooke Aspin, although still young, is a great physical defender who can play aggressively and is also very mature with strong leadership skills. She will continue to develop on her talents during her loan at Bristol City, hoping to help them stay in the top-flight.

Kaylan Marckese

Kaylan Marckese signed for Arsenal in 2022, making her debut with the club during the group stage of the UEFA Women's Champions League.

As Arsenal's third-choice goalkeeper, Marckese rarely gets game time with the WSL title-contenders. She is a talented goalkeeper who deserves to play in the top-flight, so her year-long loan-deal to Bristol City is a good move from both sides.

Marckese began her professional career in America, where she was selected by Sky Blue FC (now Gotham FC) in the 2019 NWSL College Draft.

In 2020, Kaylan Marckese signed for Selfoss in the Urvalsdeild (the top-flight of women's football in Iceland) where she played 19 games and helped them win the 2020 Icelandic Cup.

She then moved to Denmark as she signed for HB Koge in 2021 as their starting goalkeeper, helping them win two successive Kvindeliga titles in 20/21 and 21/22.

Marckese made her mark within the UEFA Women's Champions League as she started all eight of HB Koge's matches, and made 48 saves in the 21/22 competition, the most of any goalkeeper in the competition.

Can the Robins stay in the WSL?

These new signings will have a positive impact on Bristol City's upcoming season, with plenty of experience and quality throughout their squad.

Especially with Brighton and Leicester struggling towards the end of last season, Bristol City's hopes of survival are certainly better than two years ago.

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