SOPHIE Williams returns to the fold as Sunderland Ladies resume their Super League 2 campaign tomorrow.
The Lady Black Cats switch from the usual Sunday schedule with a Saturday clash against Yeovil at Eppleton CW (noon kick-off).
And manager Mick Mulhern is pleased to have two “new signings” in his squad as they look to maintain their 100 per cent start to the league campaign after the early mid-season break.
Winger Williams (23), a major player for several years with Sunderland, returns to the first-team squad after proving her fitness with the Development team which won their league title.
And midfielder Lauren Briggs (22) finally joins the squad after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, having joined the club last year from South Durham and Cestria.
“Everyone is delighted to have Sophie back,” said Mulhern, whose side is tied at the top of the division with Doncaster Belles – both sides boasting five wins out of five.
“She will give us great quality in wide areas and it’s good to have a natural left-footer as it gives us better balance.
“She’s had the game time she needed. She’s got great experience and speed, and weighs in with assists and goals.
“Having her and Lauren available is like having two new signings. It helps freshen things up.”
Mulhern is looking for his side to hit the ground running after a five-week break, but is expecting a tough test from Yeovil, who are joint fourth in the league.
“They are new to this level but have settled in quickly, and they have had some excellent results in the league and cup.
“We have never played them before, but I’ve watched them and been impressed. It’s a tough challenge.”
The Cats boss is not getting carried away with his side’s title and promotion prospects – only one side goes up – despite Sunderland and Doncaster already being seven points clear just five games into the 18-match campaign.
“I’ve not really looked too closely at the table,” he explained. “I don’t really look until after about 10 games.
“There’s so much that can happen which can change things quickly, like injuries and international call-ups. We’ve only played five games so there are 13 remaining. It’s still very early days.”
The club is hosting a World Cup-themed fun day tomorrow. At half-time, they will be looking for their biggest fans as they pick the winner of a Best Banner competition.
Children can join in with the free banner-making competition in the Hetton Centre from 10.30am.
Before the match there will be face painting, cheerleaders and ice creams, a football speed cage and much more to keep young fans entertained.
Match ticket prices are £4 for adults (£2 for SAFC men’s season card holders) and £1 for concessions.