ENGLAND international Jill Scott has backed Sunderland’s promotion credentials ahead of their Women’s Super League debut.
Sunderland make their bow in WSL Division Two this month, three years after controversially been snubbed from the inaugural season of the competition.
Ex-Black Cat Scott was vocal in her criticism of Sunderland’s exclusion from the initial draft of the WSL after manager Mick Mulhern had been responsible for developing a string of internationals, including the midfielder herself.
But ahead of Sunderland beginning their campaign in the new Second Division of the competition against local rivals Durham on Thursday, April 17, Scott believes they have to be considered as firm favourites to win promotion to the top flight.
Scott told the Echo: “It will be a competitive league with one of the ex-Arsenal players (Jayne Ludlow) taking charge at Reading, but I do think Sunderland will be among the favourites to get promotion.
“It has been a long time coming in my opinion.
“They have proved themselves in their league time and time again.
“And when you look at the England squad, it shows how many players have come through Sunderland’s ranks.
“I think there were six of us for the Cyprus Cup last month. To have that out of a squad of 23 is fantastic.
“I’m really pleased for Mick because there have been a lot of good players who have emerged in the North East over recent years, but we’ve had to move on into the top league.
“It was disappointing that they missed out on a place in the first Super League. I remember going back one weekend and they had 1,300 or so people for a cup game against Arsenal, while we were only getting 250 at Everton.
“They were getting the attendances. All they were missing was Super League football.
“It will be good for the game and the fans in the North East to be there now.”
Scott will get a first-hand glimpse of Sunderland’s prowess when she faces the Wearsiders for Manchester City, in the group stages of the Continental Cup next month.
It is new chapter at City for Scott after ending her seven-year stay at Everton during the close season.
But after becoming a full-time player for the first time in her career, the 27-year-old hopes it proves to be a beneficial move.
“I’m looking forward to the new challenge,” she added.
“I am enjoying it, as it’s the first time have been a full-time player, so I’ve been training twice a day.
“Five or six of us are full time here now, so hopefully as things go on, everyone at the club can play on that basis.
“It’s been busier than when I was part-time! But I can’t complain and hopefully, we will see improvements as the season goes on.”
Scott is hoping to win her 76th international cap tomorrow when England host Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier at Brighton tomorrow.
The game is televised live on BBC 2.
H Scott is running coaching clinics for girls aged between six and 16 at Durham’s Soccarena next week.
The training sessions, which take place on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 3pm, cost £30 for both days.
For more information contact (0191) 3706640.