Looking to start 2017 on a strong footing, Durham have announced new deals for Emily Roberts, Ellie Christon, Nicola Gibson and Annabel Johnson.
Starting last Friday, Emily Roberts became the fourth Wildcat to pen a new deal with the northern club. An important attacker with a steady footing of experience in WSL with Notts County, and Doncaster Belles as well as a brief spell with Sheffield whom she signed from in July of 2016.
“I was always going to stay here,” said Roberts when talking to the club’s website following her new deal. Happy to be playing again, the talented attacker admits she’s been enjoying not just her football but her time in Durham, rueing the end of the season that came all too fast for the Summer signing. Roberts spoke of being “excited” about extending her stay, flourishing in a strong environment and getting regular starts, she’s already eyeing more goals in 2017, keen to boost her tallies for the 2017-18 season.
Manager Lee Sanders was optimistic about Roberts’ renewed deal, “delighted” the attacker is staying on, having tried in vain to seal her signature a few times before she made the summer switch, Sanders was happy to have finally secured her signature this year and is looking forward to continued work with the attacker. Glad she was able to fit into the squad “straight away”, the Durham boss can only see Roberts having a “big” 2017.
Durham’s fifth new deal was their fourth for an ex-Lady Black Cat, with Ellie Christon the next former Sunderland player to agree terms for the coming year.
A versatile player, Christon finally found her place at full-back in Durham’s storming 2016 season, having been on the pitch for every second of the season, making great strides over the course of the year, Christon became a key component in the Wildcats success this year. Rewarded for her good work on the pitch, the defender scooped [Staff] Player of the Year as well as Most Improved Player at Durham’s end of season awards.
Entering her fourth with the Wildcats, Christon spoke of her “excitement” for the future, the whole team looking to build on a solid 2016 and carry that form into the new year and “keep improving.” Referring to their historical 2016 season as “absolutely class”, certain that with the group they have at New Ferens Park they’ll “only get better”, already eyeing the unknown Spring Series as a chance to try and win some early silverware.
“Absolutely tremendous” was how Sanders described the utility player, highlighting the improvements in her game since she made the switch to the Durham team, a “maturing” player with a “long future” with the club. Another player with a strong season ahead of her.
Versatile midfielder Nicola Gibson became the sixth Durham star to agree new terms. Having joined the Wildcats after four years at the University of West Alabama, Gibson put the skills she picked up with the Tigers into play for Durham in the WSL and became an important member of the team in 2016. Ending the season with a flourish, Gibson bagged a brace against Watford before playing a vital role as the Wildcats bested Millwall at the end of the year.
Another Wildcat looking to “build” on a sterling 2016 season, Gibson spoke of being “delighted” to commit her future to Durham, glad to have ended the season on a strong note, the midfielder is already looking at the Spring Series as time to shine.
A “hugely committed player” with a “fantastic attitude”, Sanders was once again full of praise for his player, glad to have her on board for the new year, expecting to see the player only get better throughout the year.
Like Gibson, Annabel Johnson came to Durham through their partnership with Durham University where she too is studying for a Masters. With less experience in WSL than the other six players Durham have agreed new deals with, Johnson picked up most of her experience with Coventry United in the WPL but has adjusted to the rigors of WSL 2 with ease after signing over the summer.
Much like Christon and Gibson, Johnson possess the versatility to play in both midfield and defence, and began to pick up a head of steam towards the end of the season. “Excited” to have signed on for the new season, Johnson was verified in her decision to move up from WPL to WSL, enjoying the challenge it provided. Welcomed into the side by her teammates, Johnson is raring to go for next year, wanting to get a solid pre-season under her belt before going out and getting “stuck into” the Spring Series.
Another player “100% committed” to the cause, Sanders is glad to have Johnson signed up for 2017, describing her as a “great communicator” with a “fantastic attitude”, another player who seemed to slot right into the team when she joined.