New signing Lucy Staniforth admits she has “unfinished business” at Sunderland as she prepares to begin her second spell with the Black Cats.
Sunderland Ladies commence their Super League campaign at home to Reading tomorrow (kick-off 6pm at Eppleton CW) aiming to build on last season’s fourth-place finish in their maiden season in the top flight.
Carlton Fairweather’s side have brought in four new players during the close season, including a familiar face in former academy product Staniforth.
The attacking midfielder left Sunderland in 2010 after they were controversially omitted from the inaugural Super League, but she jumped at the opportunity to return to Wearside on a two-year deal after being limited to a fringe role at Liverpool.
“Coming back pretty much ticked every box. Having had a spell out injured, I was looking for some regular football and Sunderland’s set-up is brilliant,” said Staniforth.
“In that sense, it was pretty easy for me to come back.
“It was difficult when I was here before and we didn’t get into the WSL.
“I know last year when the girls finally got into the top division, they were looking to put a marker down and scare some teams off.
“There’s definitely unfinished business for me. I want to have a strong season individually and hopefully that will help the team.”
Since leaving Sunderland, Staniforth’s promising career has been hampered by injuries after a serious knee problem at Bristol Academy and then a torn cruciate two years ago at Liverpool.
But the 23-year-old was fully fit for all of last season, albeit she was largely limited to Liverpool’s second string.
“I’m completely fine now, touch wood,” she said.
“I played pretty much all of last year for the development squad or the first-team.
“Moving on now, I just wanted to play some regular football in a team that I thought was good enough to compete.
“It was a good place for me to come.
“People keep saying I’ve got nothing to prove, just play, but I do think there is unfinished business for me.
“I like the ethos at Sunderland of working hard and not being in a struggle.
“That sums up me as a player as well.”
Staniforth rejoins a Sunderland side who raised plenty of eyebrows during their successful WSL One campaign last year and the England Under-23 international is hoping to build on those foundations – starting with this weekend’s visit of newly-promoted Reading.
“Teams will come to Sunderland and fear playing them after last season,” she added.
“To be honest, last year was such a good year that it’s going to be difficult to better that.
“If we can finish where we did last year, that would be brilliant, plus have a good cup run too.
“Reading will be looking to take some inspiration from Sunderland’s season last year and it might work for them, I suppose.
“But they’re also going against what was a really good year for Sunderland.
“We’ve got to repeat the same kind of performances for this year coming.”