Injuries force Mulhern into changes

PRIZE GUYS: Sunderland Women manager Mick Mulhern and skipper Steph Bannon proudly show off the North East Football writers' Special Recognition award, which was presented to the team in honour of their League and League Cup double last season.
PRIZE GUYS: Sunderland Women manager Mick Mulhern and skipper Steph Bannon proudly show off the North East Football writers' Special Recognition award, which was presented to the team in honour of their League and League Cup double last season.
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SUNDERLAND Women manager Mick Mulhern is set to dip into the reserves to help out his injury-ravaged first team tomorrow, writes Neil Watson.

The Lady Black Cats travel to bottom-of-the-table Barnet as they continue their bid for a third successive Premier League title.

But the squad is under severe pressure with five regulars missing.

Out of the game with illness or injury are Kelly McDougall, Natalie Gutteridge, Abby Holmes, Gemma Wilson and Sarah McFadden.

Goalkeeper Rachael Laws has also been out of action with injury but is close to a return, while Robin Chidester and Hannah Cauldwell are also unavailable – leaving the manager no option but to look to the reserves for reinforcements.

And to add to Mulhern’s problems, he is also without winger Keira Ramshaw, who is away with the England Women’s U19 side in La Manga.

“It’s disappointing to be without Keira, but her call-up is a great reward – she has had a great season for us so far.

“She wasn’t initially included in the U19 squad, simply due to the fact England wanted to move her up into the U23s and she was put on standby.

“Unfortunately for Keira, no one pulled out of that squad, but I’m pleased she has got a trip away. The international experience can only help her develop.”

Sunderland tomorrow play their game in hand on second-placed Watford and are looking to extend their lead to five points.

Third-top Leeds are away to Coventry, who pushed Sunderland all the way at Eppleton CW last week, only to lose out to a last-gasp goal from Rachel Furness.

Barnet were sent packing 7-0 in Sunderland’s opening game of the season, losing out to two goals apiece from Ramshaw, McDougall and Beth Mead, and one from Holmes.

The Bees have yet to win a league game in 12 attempts this season, with just four draws to their credit. Sunderland have 27 points from their 11 games.