SAINTS Women’s new signing Leeta Rutherford says she has kept tabs on the side over recent years, revealing “I live quite local to the club so I do keep my eye on, what I’ve seen is just growing and growing.”

Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s Saints announced the arrival of 33-year-old Rutherford from Championship Crystal Palace this week, although the midfielder has also played for Portsmouth, Brighton, Lewes, London City Lionesses throughout her career too.

Rutherford has also previously played in the Women’s third division – the level Saints will now compete at after being awarded promotion in the off-season – before, and will know what it takes to be successful.

The new acquisition was complimentary about Saints’ setup and squad, telling the club website: “They’re a great bunch, they really are. Everyone’s together, it’s one unit.

“For myself coming in I knew a couple of the girls but everybody has made me feel welcome and everybody is together. When people are struggling we get behind each other and lead each other.

“Pre-season has been tough, but it’s been really exciting as well. It’s very intense which, if you’re looking to compete in this league, you need to be physically strong and fit. They’ve got it spot on at the moment.

“They’re making us run, not just with the ball, you’re getting tired but your mind has to think as well as your legs. It’s tough but everyone is in it together and pushing each other on which is great. It’s a great team spirit.”

After making 15 league appearances for Palace during last season, Rutherford went on to reveal how her Saints move came about.

She admitted: “My plans for Palace had finished and I no longer wanted to be there anymore.

“I spoke to Marieanne the day that they got promoted, we had our Teams meeting all booked in, so that was a nice feeling to speak to her on that day.

“She was excited, and what more could I want than to come to a club with great facilities and great management, the knowledge they’ve got between them is brilliant.”