Derby County Women Captain Amy Sims wants the side to kick on when they return to action this weekend.

Sam Griffiths’ team currently find themselves in mid-table after a steady start to the campaign in the league, while cup competitions have provided plenty of positives for the Ewes.

They have an Adobe FA Cup Fourth Round tie at home to Women’s Super League outfit Leicester City to look forward to in the next few weeks, as well as a National League Plate Quarter Final against Sutton Coldfield Town later this month.

Derby have been in fine form since the Autumn, scoring plenty of goals in the process, although they did go into the festive period off the back of a 1-0 reverse at home to West Bromwich Albion to end their six-game winning run.

Despite that, Sims is convinced there’s a lot to look forward to when the side return to action against Liverpool Feds on Sunday at the Don Amott Arena in their first outing of 2024 (2pm kick-off).

She said: “The season has probably been a bit of a mixed bag so far. We knew the first couple of fixtures were going to be difficult as we were up against some strong sides, but we’ve kicked on since then.

“Once we got the first win on the board, it was about building up some momentum. We’ve had a good run of form on the road and while they have been matches we knew we could and should win, they’ve been tough places to go to and we won them convincingly.

“The cup runs have played a part in building up some momentum too. We’ve pretty much played every week, give or take a free weekend or two, and that has played a part in our league form lately.

“The team we have got is exciting and we’ve got a variety of players. We’ve got a few that have been here a while, like myself, the new signings and some exciting youngsters on dual-registrations from Women’s Super League clubs.

“There’s a lot of talent and it has been about gelling together. We’ve progressed well as the season has progressed and learnt about each other’s attributes for the benefit of the team.”

She added: “It was disappointing to go into Christmas with a defeat, but it will make the girls even hungrier to really kick on when we start up again.

“We’ve got some important cup games but, on top of that, we have a few matches in the league that we need to be looking to get maximum points from.”

Derby have won four and lost five of their nine matches in the FA Women's National League Northern Premier Division this term.

All four of their wins have come on the road against Stourbridge, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town and AFC Fylde, while their only home win so far came in the FA Cup Second Round against Loughborough Lightning.

Sims says the Ewes need to start picking up more points at the Don Amott Arena.

She said: “It is a strange one because we relied on our home form last season and were strong at Mickleover. We all love playing there, so it is one that is difficult to put your finger on.

“We thought we had broken the curse when we beat Loughborough in the FA Cup, so we need to look at ourselves and what we are doing in our performances collectively.

“We need to make sure our home form is better in the new year as we have a lot of matches coming up at Mickleover.”

Sims believes the victory at local rivals Forest in October has been the standout moment of the season so far, as well being a benchmark for the group.

Yasmin Mosby and Eleanor Ashton’s early goals stunned the Reds early on at the City Ground and, despite being under pressure late on, the Ewes were full value for their win.

Sims said: “That win was amazing and one of the highlights of the year; going to the City Ground and coming home with all three points doesn’t get much better.

“We went there as the underdogs and I think that worked in our favour. To go and press Forest like we did on their home ground and get two early goals was massive for us.

“We had to grind out the result in the end after they scored before half time and that showed great character from everyone.”

She added: “We always want to set benchmarks and that match was one of those; that is the level we can perform to.

“When we play the teams at the top end of the table it is important we take confidence from performances like that one.”

The upcoming FA Cup clash with Leicester, one of the top teams in the country, is something Sims says the squad are relishing.

It will be the first time in the competition that the Ewes will be the underdogs, having previously faced lower-league opponents.

Sims explained: “To face a Super League side is exciting and the further we progressed in the FA Cup, the more we knew we had a great chance of getting a big tie.

“We want to test ourselves against top players and sides at a level we’re all striving to get to.

“It will be an indicator of how far we’ve come and how far we need to get to. I am sure it will be a big experience and a great occasion.”

Derby also have eyes on being successful in the National League Plate, a competition for teams that failed to progress beyond the Determining Round of the League Cup earlier in the season.

Sims says everyone in the Ewes’ squad is motivated by the potential of lifting some silverware.

She said: “We want to try and win the Plate. As soon as we went out the League Cup, we said we needed to focus on trying to go all the way.

“You can only play the opponents you’ve got in front of you and whoever we’ve faced, we’ve played well, scored goals and it has also provided match minutes to some of the girls that haven’t had as much game time. It has been beneficial on some many levels.”