Sunderland duo get deserved England calls

Rachael Laws
Rachael Laws
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Sunderland Ladies pair Beth Mead and Rachael Laws have been called up for England’s trip to China next week.

It is the first senior call-up for striker Mead and the second for keeper Laws.

I am delighted to welcome the new players into the group.

England boss Mark Sampson also handed first call-ups to champions Chelsea trio Hannah Blundell, Laura Coombs and Drew Spence in the 21-player group for the CFA International Women’s Football Tournament.

All four of the new call-ups have played for England youth teams and most recently the Under-23s. Blundell, Coombs and Mead have also trained with the senior squad during recent camps.

England travel to YongChuan, Chongqing, on Monday and will face Australia (on October 23) and China (on October 27).

Sampson has chosen to rest some players from Arsenal and Notts County, who will take part in The FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup Final in Rotherham on Sunday, November 1, while also resting other squad regulars who are carrying injuries.

Sampson said: “The tournament is an opportunity for the team to continue to grow and a chance for our new players to lay down a marker and demonstrate their international capabilities.

“I am delighted to welcome the new players into the group. They have all shown potential with their clubs or when they trained with our group prior to the World Cup.

“The player pool in England is growing and creating strong competition for places is crucial to driving our players and our team to the next level.

“To be able to select a squad this strong without some players from two of our major clubs demonstrates that strength in depth. It is a huge positive that we can work closely with our FA WSL clubs to help our players and I would like to thank all of them for their support this season.”

Squad, Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Mary Earps (Bristol Academy), Rachael Laws (Sunderland)

Defenders: Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Laura Coombs (Chelsea), Jo Potter (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Drew Spence (Chelsea)

Forwards: Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Gemma Davison (Chelsea), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Sunderland), Lianne Sanderson (Portland Thorns), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns).

Mead, the FA WSL 1 top scorer this season, with 12 goals has been nominated in the Young Player of the Year category of this year’s FA Women’s Football Awards.

She is alongside Alex Greenwood, Fran Kirby and Jodie Brett.

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton, from South Hetton, is a nomination for the senior award.

Fellow former Sunderland star Lucy Bronze - who also plays for Manchester City – is also nominated having won the award two years ago.

Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and midfielder Fara Williams are also nominated. All four were in the England squad which finished third at this year’s World Cup.

Mead is also nominated in the goal of the season award, for her fierce strike against Notts County after some superb footwork to create an opening on the edge of the box.

All awards will be decided on a public vote vie thefa.com.

The voting deadline is midday on Monday, October 26.