ENGLAND international Jill Scott is relishing the prospect of lining up alongside some old Sunderland team-mates in a charity game on Sunday.
Wearside has been a breeding ground for the England set-up over recent years with 20 players representing their country at various age groups.
But five of the senior set-up are preparing to get back in Sunderland colours, with Scott, Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze, Jordan Nobbs and Carly Telford all lining up for a 20-strong Black Cats “Old Girls” squad to take on the current line-up.
The game, which takes place at Eppleton CW, in Hetton on Sunday (kick-off 2pm), is being held in honour of Penshaw’s Finlay Kennedy, three, who has an undiagnosed immune system condition and has to have blood transfusions every week to maintain his health.
Scott said: “We have been talking about getting together for a while so it will be nice to catch up, although I think a few of them are worried about the shape they’re in!
“But when you look at the old squad, it shows the good work that Mick (Mulhern, long-serving Sunderland boss) has done there over the years.
“I see Steph and Carly quite a lot anyway, but it’s amazing that Julie (Twaddle, Sunderland’s strengh and conditioning coach) has been able to get a squad together of 20.”
Scott, who has donated a signed England shirt for the post-match raffle, expects a stern test from the current crop of Sunderland players.
Sunderland will begin their maiden season in the Women’s Super League next season – albeit in the second division of it – after missing out on the inaugural first three years of the competition.
“They are training at the moment in preparation for the WSL and they have got a really strong team,” added Scott, who has left Everton after seven years to join WSL1 new girls Manchester City.
“It’s fantastic to see Sunderland in the WSL. They tried to get in at the start and were unsuccessful, but a lot of people were surprised by that because women’s football has a lot of support in the North East.
“You were cutting off a massive part of the country by not including them.
“When I went to the Arsenal cup game last season, there were about 1,000 spectators there, whereas you’re only getting two or three hundred for Super League games.
“Hopefully they can do well now they’re in the WSL and get promotion to the first division.”
Admission to the game is £3 adults and £1 for concessions (pay at the gate).
Meanwhile, Scott is running a three-day Christmas soccer school at Durham’s Soccarena between January 2 and 4 from 10am to 3pm. The coaching is available for girls aged 6-16 and is priced at £40.
For more information contact (0191) 3706640.