Future’s bright for Sunderland

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TEAM GB boss Hope Powell believes it is a “matter of time” before Sunderland take their place in the Women’s Super League.

Sunderland have controversially been snubbed from the opening two seasons of the Super League after the Black Cats’ bid didn’t meet the financial criteria required to take their place among the eight-team domestic top tier.

The decision still rankles on Wearside, particularly as former Sunderland midfielders Jill Scott and Steph Houghton will both play a part in Team GB’s Olympic challenge later this month.

But Sunderland retain their ambitions of joining the Super League and Powell says the players produced by Mick Mulhern’s side should act in their favour.

Powell said: “Sunderland have brought a lot of youngsters through their system, which is excellent. I think it’s a matter of time before they get in the Super League. With the right philosophy and mentality, there’s no reason why they can’t make the grade.

“If they keep working on their young talent, they’ve got a bright future ahead.”

Scott and Houghton have both been England regulars under Powell and should feature in Britain’s sole warm-up friendly for the Olympics, against Sweden at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Friday.

And they may not be the last former Sunderland players to graduate to the international arena, with Stockton-born midfielder Jordan Nobbs – daughter of ex-Hartlepool defender Keith Nobbs – tipped by Powell as a star in the making.

“Historically, there’s been a lot of young talent from the North East,” said Powell.

“Jordan Nobbs has done really well at Arsenal, having previously been with Sunderland.

“If she keeps her feet on the ground, she has got the makings of a senior international player, but I can say that about so many players who don’t ultimately make the grade.

“If she’s fully focused and continues the way she’s going, then Jordan really could make it.”

Team GB face a stern test of their credentials next week against Sweden before Powell’s side face their opening Olympic group game against New Zealand at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Wednesday, July 25.

Powell added: “Sweden were bronze medallists in last year’s World Cup and are always there or thereabouts in major tournaments.

“Whenever we have played them, they have been tough opposition and no game is ever easy against them.

“Having done so well at the World Cup, they are going to be high on confidence at present, so they will give us the quality of opposition that suits us at this time.

“Both sides will very competitive. The game will allow us to see where the squad is at, embed our philosophy a little more and work on things that need tweaking.”

The Sweden clash is one of two games at Boro on Friday, with Stuart Pearce’s men’s side taking on Brazil later in the day.

Tickets for the two games are priced from £30 for adults, £20 for over-65s and £15 for under-16s.