DONCASTER Belles underlined their ambition to regain their position as the country's top women's team this week when they appointed former Doncaster Rovers star John Buckley as their new manager.

Buckley has built up a reputation as a talented coach since a horrific injury at Rotherham United ended his playing career and was considering other options in the men's game when the Belles moved in for him following the departure of Julie Chipchase.

He said: "It's a massive challenge and that is one of the things that attracted me to the job.

"The women's game has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, especially at the top level, and I'm really looking forward to the season ahead."

The Belles will train at Cantley Park next season and have secured permission to play several of their home games at Belle Vue.

Buckley, 41, started his playing career at Celtic and was signed by Billy Bremner from Partick Thistle in July, 1984.

He earned rave reviews on his Rovers debut at Preston, with even the watching England legend Tom Finney commenting favourably on his performance, and he quickly became a firm favourite at Belle Vue.

Buckley went on to play for Leeds United, Leicester City, Scunthorpe and Rotherham making over 250 league appearances before his playing career was brought to an abrupt end in 1993.

He suffered a freak injury while trying to head the ball and spent time in hospital on a life support machine with two blood clots on his brain.

Buckley eventually made a full recovery and began coaching on his return to the game gaining a full badge in 1995 and later the top UEFA A coaching badge.

He coached youngsters at the Leeds United soccer Academy as well as becoming a fitness instructor and is currently working as a youth team coach with Hull City while also taking charge of FA coaching courses.

Belles' general manager Mick Abrahams said: "John has a great reputation as a coach and we are very excited about his appointment as are the players."

Buckley will also take over as director of the club's centre of excellence for girls aged from Under 10s to Under 16s.

He will have an early opportunity to assess the first team players when the Belles take on last season's treble winners Fulham in the Charity Shield on August 6.