Since Birmingham City announced the departure of long-term boss David Parker and the subsequent appointment of Marc Skinner, the Blues have been patiently waiting for some inevitable incoming changes to occur prior to the Spring Series. Now into 2017 with the one off competition just around the corner, Birmingham have secured three names that weigh evenly in experience and promise.
After featuring heavily throughout City's last season, it was obvious that defender Jess Clark had impressed. Making 21 appearances in all competitions, the youngsters popularity manifested in the form of four awards from the club; Manager’s Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Supporter’s Club Player of the Season. Meaning it was important that the future of the talented 19 year old was sealed and Birmingham have managed to do that as Clark commits to 18 more months with the Blues.
On signing Carter told the club: "The three seasons I have been here have been really successful for my development and progress. I'm excited to see what we can achieve as a team and for me myself personally." The defender added that "I knew Marc [Skinner] before, he's always been there for my development. There's nowhere else I want to be right now."
At the ripe age of 16 Carter had made her senior team appearance in the high pressure setting of the UEFA Women's Champions League in 2013, subsequently being awarded Player of the Match, and it has been upwards since then. Clark started every game that she played in last season and was only substituted off once, displaying how integral the youngster has become to the solid backline of Birmingham City - which allowed just 13 goals in during the 2016 season, less than both Chelsea and Arsenal.
While the defensive side of Birmingham has been reaffirmed with the signing, Skinner looks to secure more goals with the signing of Notts County and England international, Ellen White. The 27 year old has joined the club for 18 months, with the option to add a further year onto the contract once July 2018 comes around.
White has bags of experience which will suit Birmingham City's plans to move forward. The striker has played under Arsenal as a product of their development team, and was most notably Chelsea's top goal scorer three times consecutively before moving to Leeds Carnegie, and finally to Notts County in 2014.
In addition to her knowledge within the league, White is not unfamiliar to the international experience with 56 caps and 17 goals under her belt. Notably she was voted 2011 England's Player of the Year and was a part of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup squad that brought the bronze medal home from Canada. The Aylesbury born forward is currently preparing with the England squad ahead of a friendly trip to La Manga and will return to Birmingham after the games against Norway and Sweden.
Interestingly, the first game that White will play in a blue shirt will be at Meadow Lane as Birmingham go away to the Lady Pies. After three seasons at Notts County, White told Birmingham that she was motivated to move because of the challenge: "I had a really good meeting with Marc and Leanne and what they said about making me better as player, and also how ambitious they are as a club, really enticed me."
To consolidate the fact that Skinner and Birmingham City are looking to the future of the club they have scooped up promising 18 year old Sarah Mayling from neighbours and WSL 2 side Aston Villa. The talented midfielder joins the club for six months, which takes her to the end of the Spring Series, after 12 years of service to her former club. If Mayling impresses she will have the option to extend her contract with City, but in an interview with the club she said that this does not put pressure on her but rather excites her.
The versatility of Mayling is what makes her appealing as she can play, from any position the Villa graduate has an ability to direct the game and has a keen eye for the goal. Her vision and execution has been employed with the U-20 England side, and after showing what she is made of in the successful NCT Invitational tournament in LA, USA - where England came away champions.
On joining Birmingham, Mayling expressed her excitement for a new challenge under a manager with experience of developing: "Blues throughout the years have been known to bring up players like Jess [Carter], that gives me a good chance to show what I can do and I'm sure I will get that [chance]."