Having already announced new deals for Nat Gutteridge, Sarah McFadden, Becky Salicki, Emily Roberts, Ellie Christon, Nicola Gibson and Annabel Johnson, Durham have locked down Beth Hepple, Sarah Wilson and Jen Jennings ahead of the new year.
Prolific midfielder Beth Hepple signed on the dotted line just before Christmas, knowing their talismanic forward would be on board for the coming year an early present for the Durham faithful. Having grown steadily during her time with the Wildcats, Hepple was an ever-present in the Durham side as they kept pace with the top three, her 16 goals in 22 appearances helping to propel them to the top half of the table. Her improved form even earning her an England cap as she joined up with the U20s this Summer.
Much like her teammates, Hepple is eyeing a strong 2017, looking to build on a fruitful 2016, having “really gelled as a team” throughout the year keeping the squad mentality will be huge for the modest Northern side.
Manager Lee Sanders is glad to have Hepple signed on for next year, “over the moon” that she’ll be continuing her tenure with the Wildcats. Admitting that her strong performances have drawn interest from clubs elsewhere in the league, Sanders is relieved that the young midfielder has “committed her long-term future” to the New Ferens club. Still just 20, Sanders can see Hepple setting an “example” for the younger players, lauding her hard work off of the pitch as well as on.
Having captain, Sarah Wilson commit her future to the Wildcats was a Boxing Day surprise for fans. Having joined from Newcastle United in 2014 Wilson has become a vital member of the squad, an evergreen as Durham have risen through the ranks, given the armband ahead of the 2015 season, Wilson leads the team from the back.
After centre-back partner Salicki committed her future to the club earlier in the month, it speaks of the strong foundations Sanders will be building on for 2017, the defensive pair a formidable part of one of the meaner defences in the league this year.
With the Spring Series looming, Wilson “can’t wait to get started”, with everyone on board “looking forward” to 2017 and the challenges it may bring after having “smashed all the records” the captain remains positive about the new season, looking to “go all the way”.
“Delighted” to have Wilson on board for the coming year, Sanders referred to the defender as a “winner” who’s developed as a player since having joined, “growing” into the captaincy, a “driving” force both off and on the pitch. A “warrior” who “leads by example”, Sanders is thrilled to have his captain signed up for the new year.
Having been with the team for three years, Jennings time with the Wildcats has been blighted by injury however the defender did well to come back to full-fitness this year, earning her spot in the starting XI. Remembered for her dedication during the season just gone, having made three clearances off of the line against Everton and Millwall, Jennings’ determination key as Durham pushed the top three all the way.
Although often left frustrated by her injury and rehab over the last 18 months, Jennings is “excited” to be on board for the new season, hoping to “part of the journey” as Durham eyes promotion. Keen to keep the core of the squad the same and continue building on firm foundations, the full-back hopes the club will carry their strong form from 2016 through into 2017 and challenge not just for top four, but top two.
For Sanders there was “no doubt”, he knew he wanted the hard working defender in his ranks for the coming year, praising the hard work she’s put in off the pitch to overcome her injury niggles and play well when she finally got back into the squad and onto the pitch. Her manager “delighted” that the defender who’s “a big part of the club” will be around for another year.