BROOKE Chaplen does not have far to travel far to return home after tonight’s Sunderland Ladies debut.
And the new signing insists the Lady Black Cats will not have an impossible journey tonight to Liverpool.
These Sunderland girls are ready to play at this standard, and training full-time can only help us push forward and compete with the established sides in WSL 1.
On paper, it looks a mammoth task for newly-promoted Sunderland at the Women’s Super League 1 champions.
However, Chaplen, who lives in Liverpool after spending seven years at Everton, believes Sunderland will be able to compete.
“I think the quality gap between WSL1 and 2 is decreasing so quickly all the time,” the 25-year-old told the Echo.
“There used to be a few good teams at the top then the rest fell short, but now it’s a lot more competitive across the board.
“Every team is starting to pick their game up and be able to compete against the clubs in the top league, as you could see in some of the FA Cup results.
“It shows the women’s game is really moving forward.
“These Sunderland girls are ready to play at this standard, and training full-time can only help us push forward and compete with the established sides in WSL 1.”
Chaplen, not surprisingly, knows Liverpool well and is full of admiration, but says Sunderland must not stand back and admire them once the whistle blows at the Halton Stadium.
“It’s not the same as a Merseyside derby, but I think it’s a good game for us as a team to get started,” she said.
“Liverpool won the Super League last year and it’s a good way to see where we are at as a team and see what we need to do to compete.
“Hopefully it will be an exciting game and will be a good advertisement for women’s football as well.
“Liverpool manager Matt Beard has created a team that plays some really good football.
“When you come up against teams that keep the ball so well, it’s hard to play against.
“It will be up to us to be compact and not leave any gaps and give them space to play.”
Chaplen will figure in the Sunderland squad after signing on Monday afternoon following fewer than a handful of sessions with her new team-mates.
She is not taking her place for granted, but says she is ready to play if called upon.
“When I was an England player, you were expected to train on your own and had programmes to follow,” said the midfield ace, who has been given the number 19 jersey.
“I have been following one of those programmes. It’s not as good as playing football, but it keeps you in shape.
“I might not be completely up to speed with everyone else, given the girls have played quite a few pre-season games, but I’m not far off at all.”