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2013-08-29T14:00:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:07:19

Merritt in Ladies' appointment

West Ham United Ladies will be looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat when they host Portsmouth on Sunday.

Despite having taken the lead, the Hammers slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Charlton Athletic as they made a losing start to the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division season.

The opportunity for redemption comes against a side that go into the game off the back of a 3-1 win over Chesham United in their first league match.

Mark Saunderson's team has undergone some big changes over the off-season, none more so than the installing of Becky Merritt as the team's new captain.

Life-long West Ham fan Merritt is relishing her new role and is delighted the club's management have put their trust in her.

She said: "It feels incredible! The support from in and around the club has been amazing.

"It is amazing to pull on that claret and blue shirt every week so when you add the arm band to that, it really is a true honour.

"I am proud that Mark has given me this opportunity and I know that he and I will work well together. To know that he has put his faith in me is a proud moment."

The team are looking to build on a sixth-placed finish last season and the new captain is hoping to continue the progress made by the club in previous years.

Merritt joined the Hammers back in 2009 and is hoping to experience success in the near future.

"For me the club has really developed in the years I have been lucky enough to be involved. There have been different managers but they all brought something different to the table.

"Under Julia Setford we challenged for the title, coming in third and reaching the quarter finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup.

"We steadily attracted new players and once Julia had felt she could take the club as far as possible, she brought in Mark Saunderson.

"Mark's reputation precedes him and although its early stages, I can see he will be successful here. What is most pleasing for me is the level of youngsters coming through the ranks and competing for shirts.

"Give it a few years and these players will be bossing the first team."

The new skipper may never have played football again had a series of operations in her teenage years not gone to plan.

And ironically it was the promise of a trial with last week's opposition Charlton which kept her going through tough times.

"I suffered a serious knee injury at the age of 16 as I was breaking through into senior football which kept me out of the game for three years.

"I got told that I may never play again, but I battled to regain fitness and strength in my knee.

"I saw countless specialists and consultants over a period of three years, each giving differing opinions. My Dad paid for me to see a highly recommended physiotherapist, she helped strengthen my knee and constructed a programme that would get me back kicking a ball.

"I arranged a trial date for the Charlton Academy to inspire me and keep me on track."

Merritt now has her sights firmly set on bettering her own personal achievements from last season and is hoping there may be some silverware for her to lift come the end of the campaign.

"Personally I would like to match or beat my goal scoring tally from last season. I am playing a different role this season and I hope that will help me continue to be instrumental in our attacks.

"We have some of the best forwards in the league and I know I can link well with them to win us games.

"It would be a dream to lift the winner's trophy at the end of the season but we will take each week as it comes. It is a long season after all!"

You can see the West Ham Ladies in action this Sunday against Portsmouth LFC. The game kicks off at 2pm at Thurrock Football Club, Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex, RM19 1YN.

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