VIDEO: Doncaster Rovers Belles bow out as Buckley departs

In what was his last interview with the Free Press as Belles manager, John Buckley spoke after the 3-0 Birmingham defeat and was adamant the club had to keep their squad of players.

With Jess Sigsworth, Millie Bright and Lyndsey Cunningham all publicly announcing they wanted to remain at the club for another year, several are yet to pen similar deals.

Former Belles boss John Buckley. Photo: Via Getty Images

Former Belles boss John Buckley. Photo: Via Getty Images

Buckley, who left the club by “mutual agreement” hours after the City defeat, said: “I’d love to see the likes of Leandra Little and Sue Smith say they’re staying at the club.

“There’s others too like Tori (Williams) and Kash (Kasia Lipka) who would definitely bring this club forward.”

Speaking just hours before he left the club by mutual consent, he said: “I’ve said I want to stay next season and help the club back into WSL1 - that is the main aim and promotion is all we should be going for.”

Talking of his highlights over a turbulent season, he said: “Developing the younger players was a big highlight for me.

“Players like Ashleigh Mills who had only come to the club this year, she’s come on leaps and bounds.

“Jess Sigsworth has been a fantastic player for us too. Millie Bright is exceptional and the two new girls from Blackburn, Razza (Rhiannon Roberts) and Dani (Cox) have settled in well and done great for us.

“I’ve been impressed particularly with the second half of the season from Tori Williams, she’s put in some very good performances.

“Next season we have to go in believing we can get straight back up.

“This club deserves to be in the top division.”

* Doncaster Rovers Belles’ final game in the top flight finished with a 3-0 loss to Birmingham City Ladies.

Goals came from City trio Kate Wilkinson, Isobel Christiansen and Emily Simpkins.