THREE is the magic number for Sunderland Women manager Mick Mulhern tomorrow.
But it’s points, not prizes, that he is concentrating on!
Sunderland can win the Premier League title for the third successive season when they entertain Cardiff City at Eppleton CW tomorrow (2pm).
The Black Cats are four points clear of only challengers Leeds United, with just two games left for both teams – the last day of the season seeing the two clash at the Hetton ground.
Leeds are away to Portsmouth tomorrow, knowing they must win and hope Sunderland slip up for the title race to go to the final weekend.
The Wearsiders are favourites to seal the title, especially after beating Cardiff 4-0 in Wales just last month, but Mulhern is determined that no hints of complacency creep into his players’ minds.
“No one should take Cardiff lightly,” he said.
“They have had an unusual season in that they have been better away than at home. They won 4-0 at Charlton last week – and Charlton beat us when we played them – so no one can doubt their ability.
“They also won at Leeds this season, and pushed us very hard in the League Cup a couple of months ago, and we did well to edge it 2-0 in the end. They were a tough nut to crack.”
Mulhern and his players had a team meeting this week to discuss the game and to make sure the full focus is on the 90 minutes and nothing more.
“I’m sure everyone has taken the message on board, and the captain Steph Bannon will make sure all the players go into the game with the right mentality.
“Winning the league again was always our top priority, but we can only focus on trying to win the three points available and see where that takes us.”
Mulhern praised his skipper and her defensive colleagues in a season where they have conceded only 15 goals in 16 league games.
“Steph has had a very good season, along with the all the defence and the goalkeeper,” he said.
“A lot of credit and attention goes on Beth Mead and all the goals she has scored (29 so far) and full credit to her – she deserves all the plaudits for her achievements.
“But the back four have again been very solid and given us that platform to build on. They have been vital for us.”
Mulhern could be boosted by the return to action of midfielder Rachel Furness tomorrow.
The Northern Ireland international feared she had suffered a serious knee injury in March, but tests showed nothing more than severe bruising, and she returned to training this week.
“Rachel will be involved, whether it be on the bench or just in the squad as she has been a key player this season.
“There’s no need to take any risks with her, but she could be the ideal player to come on as a substitute if the situation requires it.
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