After a high-profile switch from Birmingham City, England international Karen Carney is set to become an even greater game-breaker for double-winners Chelsea this season according to Lionesses legend Kelly Smith.
Carney, 28, had been a rock in the Birmingham City line-up since returning to the club in 2011, having spent her youth career at St Andrews.
But the 110-time England international opted to increase her chances of picking up silverware in 2016 by moving to reigning FA WSL and SSE Women’s FA Cup champions Chelsea.
And England’s all-time record goalscorer Smith, who still plies her trade in the top flight with the Blues’ London rivals Arsenal, believes Chelsea will be an even more intimidating prospect this year as a result.
“They’ve always been a tough side to play against, and the rivalry between Arsenal and Chelsea that runs over from the men’s game is only good for the women’s matches as well,” she said.
“Chelsea will be looking to retain their title as you always do when you’ve won it. But from experience I know it’s always harder to win it the second time around.
“They’ve got Karen coming in to give them some help with their attacking – not that they would need it as they are pretty formidable up front anyway.
“But she can make a massive difference. She is a very experienced international player, who has great quality and vision with the ball at her feet.
“She has been the real playmaker for both her former club Birmingham and for England as well, so it was a no-brainer for Chelsea to go after her.
“Karen is the type of player that wants to win trophies and she’s probably gone to the right club to do that – although Emma Hayes might have a job on her hands to keep all the strikers happy.”
Smith headed down to St Joseph’s RC Junior School in Wembley on Monday to help out with the fourth-round draw of this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup competition, as the FA and SSE announced that all children will be able to attend this year’s final for free.
The striker has enjoyed more than her fair share of success in the competition in her three spells with Arsenal, lifting the trophy five times overall in her astonishing 21-year career.
However, last season’s SSE Women’s FA Cup saw Arsenal dumped out by eventual champions Chelsea at the quarter-final stage, and after missing out on the first ever final to be played at Wembley, Smith insists she is not about to let lightning strike twice.
She said: “Obviously we need to get back to winning ways this year, both in the league and the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
“We didn’t deserve to be in that final last year, but having played for Arsenal for many years I know the club is all about winning trophies.
“We’ve got a great incentive this year to get back to the final as a result. That is such a special day, as soon as you wake up you’re buzzing because you know it’s the one trophy in the women’s game that you want to win. It’s magical.”
To buy your tickets to The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final, visit www.thefa.com