As Alex McLeish and his Birmingham City team prepare for what is certain to be a tense final Premier League run-in, another arm of the club is gearing up for what they hope is a bright new era.

Big Eck’s men face Sunderland at St Andrew’s on Saturday keen to secure three more points in their battle for Premier League survival.

For Birmingham City Ladies, the focus is on something altogether different.

Tonight (Thursday) they play their first game in the new FA Women’s Super League against Bristol Academy at Stratford Town FC (7.45pm).

The league is an ambitious £3 million project by the FA to lift the women’s game and the sport in general in this country, with the knock-on effect of boosting England on the international stage.

Blues had nine uninterrupted years as members of the FA Women’s Premier League before being selected as one of eight teams for the new competition, which runs throughout the summer until October.

Blues pledged to match a £70,000 windfall given to each participant by the FA, and have also secured Hollywood Monster, the Birmingham-based signs and graphics company, as shirt sponsor.

So it’s clear they mean business after the Carson Yeung regime welcomed them back into the St Andrew’s fold properly.

In previous seasons the relationship between the ladies and the club has not been particularly great.

Karen Carney, who rejoined Blues after two years in America with Chicago Red Stars, said that the ladies hoped to make their mark in the league.

“We have got a great squad,” said the England winger, who is not only Blues’ big name, but the league’s itself.

“We have brought in some really good players and they are young and they want it.

“I’m not going to say how well we will do, but we will try to give 110 per cent each game and enjoy it. If we win, we win; if we lose, we lose.

“It’s about a learning experience,” she said, “but we will always give everything and try and put a performance on for the fans.”

Carney came through the Blues ranks and said that the league, and the change in attitude at the club, was for the better.

“It’s not professional, but it feels as if it is professional. There is so much more support and backing for the league.

“When I left two years ago for the States, I felt a bit lost really. We didn’t have the support, we didn’t have anything.

“Since returning, the growth in the sport, the change and the development, has just blown me away.”