Home start for Sunderland Women

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SUNDERLAND WOMEN play their first home game of the new season tomorrow.

The Lady Black Cats – Premier League champions for the past two seasons – take on Barnet at Eppleton CW (1pm).

The hosts will be hoping to build on last week’s 4-1 victory over Portsmouth, while Barnet are hoping to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat against Manchester City on the opening day.

Sunderland are without Becky Salicki, Sarah Unwin and Sarah McFadden, who return to Wearside next week after playing summer football in Iceland.

Salicki and Unwin have been playing for Grindavik, while Northern Ireland international McFadden has been playing for Premier League side FH, in Reykjavik.

Salicki and Unwin have helped Grindavik hit a run of form, with four wins in their last five games after the side made a slow start to the season.

Salicki has contributed with three goals from her attacking midfield role. Former Sunderland defender and current Newcastle captain Sarah Wilson has also been part of the Grindavik squad.

Meanwhile, McFadden – who has played in Iceland for several seasons – has played a crucial role in various positions for FH, contributing a fair share of goals.

Speaking about her experience, Salicki commented on the importance McFadden had in helping the girls settle in Iceland.

“She is something of a celebrity out here and having her here with us has helped a lot,” said Salicki.

“It has felt like a home away from home out here. The club, committee and the lasses have all made us feel so welcome and we have all made some friends for life.

“They have always let us know how thankful they are for our contribution to the team and it has been a privilege to get to know and play with these girls.

“It has been an amazing experience out here for the four of us and we would recommend anyone to come out here to play. It is hard work and a character-building experience at the same time.”

“As much as we have enjoyed it and will miss this place, we can’t wait to be back home playing another season with our Sunderland family.

“We have been keeping in touch with the girls back home and were delighted to hear that they won the first game of the season against Portsmouth and we can’t wait to be back and get stuck into this new season.”

Admission to tomorrow’s game is just £3, with U16s and over 65s £1.