In Focus: Daly hungry for more as Villa target top-four tilt
Rachel Daly is hungry for more in the upcoming Women's Super League season despite winning the Golden Boot in 2022-23.
The Aston Villa and England star notched 22 goals last season and looks primed for another impressive campaign under Carla Ward after helping the Lionesses reach the Women's World Cup final over the summer.
As the ambitious Villans' opener against Manchester United on October 1 edges closer, we turn the spotlight on the PFA Women's Player of the Year.
Closing the gap
Despite competing in only their second season in the women's top flight, Villa made huge strides in reducing the gap to Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City last term.
Ward's side finished in fifth, securing eye-catching wins over City and Arsenal, while they reached the Women's FA Cup semi-finals for the first time.
Of course, it is hard to look past the signing of Daly in helping them reach that next level.
Having featured as a left-back during the Lionesses' triumphant Euro 2022 campaign the previous summer, many were surprised to see her playing up front for her new side — which proved a shrewd move from Ward.
The Villa boss recently said of her No9: "I said she's going to score goals and she's going to be a centre forward and she did.
"I think I even said that she'd play for England in their nine and she's done that."
Given the regularity of her goalscoring, it began to seem like it was a matter of when, rather than if, Daly would find the net for the Villans.
That was a sentiment certainly felt by her Villa team-mates, as Freya Gregory alluded to when speaking exclusively to LiveScore over the summer.
The 20-year-old said: "We all know she can score goals with her left foot, right foot, head. We know it's only a matter of time before she scores the next one."
Hungry for more
Despite sweeping up many of the awards and plaudits last term, the 31-year-old is still desperate to improve.
Her manager added: "Rachel has been unbelievable. She's had quite some season and then to top it off to get the PFA award.
"But she's hungry for more. The first thing she said is she wants to improve. She wants to add a different dimension and I love that — we're excited, she's excited."
England's World Cup heartbreak will be another motivating factor for Daly — and that could be further bad news for the rest of the WSL.
New attacking partners
Closing that 10-point gap behind the top four is the next challenge for Villa and they have been busy adding attacking quality to ease the burden on their talismanic Lioness.
The permanent acquisition of winger Kirsty Hanson from Manchester United looks a significant one after eight goals and 10 assists on loan last season, while she has been joined by fellow former Red Devil Adriana Leon.
England international Ebony Salmon is another exciting addition from Daly's old team Houston Dash, with Alisha Lehmann's new contract another sign of the growing belief in the team.
With the WSL's best-performing striker spearheading an exciting support case behind her, Villa will believe they are more than capable is disrupting the elite.