ROVERS Ladies are looking to hit the ground running on their first season in the Women’s Championship.

Gemma Donnelly’s charges were back in training on Tuesday night as they build up to life in the second tier.

Having been dominant in the division below, winning four trophies last season, the Blues are now braced for tougher tests ahead.

Donnelly hopes the work in pre-season will be the ideal preparation for that, the new campaign starting at Lewes on August 18.

“It’s huge because we’ve got to make a step up,” she said.

“The girls have that burning desire to get back on the pitch.

“There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, it’s not just started this week.

“Obviously there have been lots of months of preparation.

“It’s good to implement it all now and I hope we’ve pitched it at the right tempo to give us a good start into the opening game of the season.”

Donnelly is adding different dimensions to what she does with the players in order to get that extra edge.

Her side are also getting used to new surroundings at Rovers’ Senior Training Centre and Academy, using the facilities at Brockhall for their midweek training.

“There are so many changes,” she told the club website.

“One thing I’m proud to introduce this season is a sports psychologist. We’ll really benefit from it.

“We’ve been dominant in the league below for a few years but I don’t think it’s going to be that way this year.

“It’s really important to start how we mean to go on.

“A bigger squad, competition, things not always going our way, it’s about how we deal with that.

Ultimately it’s dealing with the players and how the coaching team work with the players to really maximise what we can get from them.”

Right now, Donnelly admits that it is just good to be back ahead of an exciting campaign.

“I can’t wait to get going, it’s exciting times for us,” she said.

“We’ve got a really tough pre-season planned which will really test us and see where we’re at in terms of the top end of the competition.

“It’s also an opportunity to get a look at the trialists.”

Rovers Ladies are in friendly action in a behind-closed-doors game against Super League outfit Everton Ladies on Sunday.