ENGLAND international Jordan Nobbs believes Sunderland’s outstanding team spirit can carry them to promotion this season.
The Lady Black Cats travel to their main rivals Doncaster Belles tomorrow night in a crunch clash in the Women’s Super League 2.
Leaders Sunderland have six wins out of six so far, but face their toughest test so far at Doncaster, who lie just two points behind and are still unbeaten.
Former Sunderland midfielder Nobbs – who now stars for Arsenal in the top flight – expects a tough and tight clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“I think the teams are very similar,” she said.
“The Doncaster team is quite young and fit, but the Sunderland team has one of the best team spirits and togetherness as a squad that I have known.
“They have always had that, even when I was there, and we used to win some games purely through working hard for each other.
“That is one thing that Sunderland will never lose.
“There is a lot of talent in the North East and that has come from the training and playing against the best players.
“It just shows that if you are playing with a good set of players and a good squad, then you will improve and that can only help you reach the highest level.”
Nobbs’ outstanding talent was clear from an early age and it was no surprise when she left Sunderland to ply her trade at the top level with Arsenal.
But she says she has a lot to be grateful to Sunderland for.
“My grounding at Sunderland was massive for my career,” she said.
“We only trained twice a week back then, but (manager) Mick Mulhern played a massive part in progressing us as younger players, while also doing well as a team.
“We had to compete with some of the best teams in the league then and that certainly helped push us as a team to improve and me as an individual, to then be in a position to make that move to Arsenal and compete with those top players as well.
“I am always in touch and Mick is always wishing me good luck – before nearly every game.
“I always follow the progress of the Sunderland girls and always want them to do well.
“They have always been a massive part of my career and life and always will be, what with it being my home team.”
Sunderland have already won once at Doncaster this season; a 2-0 triumph in the Continental Cup. And the Black Cats’ 100 per cent start in the league has not surprised the England star.
“I had no doubt that they would make a good start to the season. They have always had a good team and a good staff behind them,” she explained.
“I hope that they will do really well. If they do get to win it, that would be massive for the North East as a whole, to have a team in the top division.”