SUNDERLAND Ladies are boosted by the inclusion of England U19 forward Beth Mead and midfielder Abbey Joice for tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round clash with Watford at Eppleton CW (1pm), writes Neil Watson.
Both players were called up for the England squad’s recent trip to La Manga, but neither saw any action after picking up early injuries.
But both are now fit and available for the all-FA Women’s Super League II clash in the cup tomorrow.
It’s a welcome boost for manager Mick Mulhern, who has Keira Ramshaw and Sarah McFadden ruled out with injury, while Sophie Williams is ill.
Natalie Gutteridge and Lauren Briggs are still recovering from anterior cruciate ligament injuries, while Becky Salicki is out for the season after suffering the same setback.
“Natalie is going well, and we can count her return in weeks rather than months now,” said Mulhern.
“Lauren is a little bit behind that, but the league season is still a month away, so we are looking forward to having them back in the squad.
“As for the cup tomorrow, it’s good news that Abby and Beth are fit after their England disappointments. It’s been a long build-up to the league season and I think everyone is dying for another competitive game.
“We beat Oxford in the third round, but that seems ages ago now, so we are looking forward to tomorrow.”
The clash pairs Sunderland, last season’s Premier Division champions, with the Hornets, who finished as runners-up.
And Mulhern expects the rivalry to continue beyond tomorrow.
“Looking to the league, we expect Watford to be up there challenging once again.
“With us, and the likes of Reading, Millwall and Doncaster Belles, it promises to be a very competitive league.
“For now, we look to the cup and try to get our names in the hat for the next round.”
Admission is £4 for adults and £1 concessions.
H Durham Women are at home to Sheffield Ladies at New Ferens Park tomorrow (1.30pm).