Ambitious Belles sign Swedish international

Belles new signing Maria Karlsson.
Belles new signing Maria Karlsson.

SCANDANAVIAN star Maria Karlsson has swapped the Champions League for the FA Women’s Super League to become Doncaster Rovers Belles’ newest recruit.

The versatile 25-year-old impressed boss John Buckley during a trial period last month and becomes the first Swedish player to join a WSL club.

Karlsson, who can operate in defence or midfield, helped top Swedish side Linköping to a league and cup double in 2009 and has played in the Women’s Champions League for the last two seasons.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to playing for Doncaster and to be the first Swedish player in WSL.

“I was looked after really well when I visited the club and it’s going to be nice to meet the girls.

“I’m very grateful that I’ve got this opportunity and I’ll be doing my absolute best to help the team to be successful this year.”

Buckley has cast his net far and wide in the search for new players and Karlsson, a Swedish youth international, joins Canadian capped Kylla Sjoman, Irish international Aine O’Gorman and former Buffalo Flash forward Katie Holtham in a new-look Doncaster squad.

Buckley said: “We’re delighted to get Maria on board because she gives us a number of different options.

“She came to us as a defender but she’s a player that can really get the ball down and pass it.

“It might be that she ends up in a holding midfield role.

“Maria is hoping to break into the full Swedish side and playing in the WSL is a good career move for her,” he added.

“We’ve brought in a few girls from overseas but I’ve got no worries about them settling in quickly - they’re all very good players.”

Belles have stepped up their training programme since the turn of the year and are set to attend a gruelling military-style training camp next week as the countdown to the new Super League continues.