Manchester City Women's Krystle Johnston is currently in the form of her life.
Affectionately known as 'Joey', the Bury-born striker, who started her career with the Blues and has scored more than 100 goals for the club, has become a key component in her side's upturn in fortunes over recent weeks, earning deserved praise from manager Nick Cushing in the process.
Johnston, who is making her top-flight debut at the age of 30, reveals she's loving her football at the moment and credits her boss for his part in aiding her development.
"Being able to play in the FA Women's Super League has been brilliant," she smiled. "I never thought I’d be playing at the top level. It’s great for me because I’ve been here for so long. To be given the opportunity is just amazing and I don’t want to let it go – I want more and more!
"I feel like I'm improving every week because Nick gets the best out of me. For the first couple of games, I was a bit nervous but he told me to use my strengths, be confident and just go for it.
"That's what I've been doing and the more games I've played, the more confident I've become and I've started to enjoy it. I've come out of my shell really.
"In Nick's coaching sessions, you don't just learn one position either – you learn them all – and that's really benefiting me. Playing well against Everton and especially playing at left-back against Liverpool has done wonders for my confidence.
"I’d never played in that position before – I’ve always played as a number 9 – so that was new to me. I didn’t find it overly difficult because of how we learn in training."
After those clashes against both halves of Merseyside, Cushing asserted Johnston was unlucky not to receive the Player of the Match award. The forward produced a particularly impressive display against the Toffees, opening the scoring with a deflected effort on 25 minutes. Regardless of the helping hand given by the defender though, Johnston is claiming the strike as her own.
"I’ve watched it over and over and I still think it’s my goal," she laughed. "To be honest, I think I should be awarded it purely for the touch – it was immense!
"Joking aside though, I was just really pleased we’d scored. I love playing against Everton. It was good when we played them at the Etihad Stadium in the Continental Cup but I thought we were even better the other night.
"We could even have improved and we could have scored more. Again, that way of thinking has come from Nick.
"He always wants more and he analyses everything we do. It makes you want to do it. We know that when he goes home, he watches the game five times. He’s constantly looking for ways for us to improve and I’ve never encountered anything like the preparation we do now.
"As soon as he says something, it stays in your head and you know exactly what he means because he doesn’t overcomplicate things. He gets you in the mindset to focus constantly and want more.
"We always have good banter too which is a bonus because I’ve never had that before either. He’s got a really serious side but we have a good laugh too when he’s coaching.
"He’s approachable, great to be around and he makes you feel good. Everyone loves him because of the way he is and you want to play for him.
"He’s helped and supported me so much and I can’t fault him in any way."
Reflecting on the season so far, Johnston expressed her delight at the way the Blues have responded to a difficult start. When asked of her hopes for the remainder of the season though, she remained coy.
"Everyone’s made up with the way we've turned things around," she stated. "After the defeat at Doncaster, we were absolutely gutted but we used it to spur us on. We’d fallen to the lowest point but sometimes you have to get there to be able to reach the high.
"We’re trying to keep ourselves grounded. We’ve only won four games and of course, we’re only halfway there. After the break, we’ll return to training, Nick will make sure we’re focused again and we'll try and push on."