Sunderland relishing Liverpool test

GOAL: Sarah McFadden
GOAL: Sarah McFadden
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SUNDERLAND Ladies may still be nine weeks away from their first taste of Super League 1 action but it is starting to feel very close – and exciting.

The fixture list was released yesterday, with the Lady Black Cats opening up their season at defending champions Liverpool.

Sunderland, promoted from WSL2 last year, will visit the Halton Stadium on Wednesday, March 25, when BT Sport will screen the match live.

New Cats boss Carlton Fairweather smiled: “Liverpool away? It’s not a bad way to start!

“They are the reigning champions and the club which has overtaken Arsenal as the best in England.

“Our preparations are going well and there is still a long way to go.

“This game will be a good reference point to us to see where we are and what we have to do to compete in Super League.

“It will show us what we need to learn and work on to help us to move forward.”

Sunderland will be at home the following Wednesday against WSL’s richest club, Manchester City, who will visit Hetton on April 1.

Fairweather’s team then hosts Bristol Academy on April 18 in match three out of 14.

Arsenal, Birmingham, Chelsea and Notts County make up the rest of the eight-club division.

The WSL will take a mid-season break for the World Cup in Canada, which runs from June 6 until July 5.

Before going toe-to-toe with the top clubs, Sunderland must first tackle the FA Cup, with skipper Steph Bannon leading the Cats out this Sunday at Aston Villa in the pick of the third round ties.

“We thought we were scheduled to start in the FA Cup at a later date,” said Fairweather. “But were in at this stage, so we’ve had to accommodate that.

“It will be an important game for us in the lead-up to our league season.

“It has gone well so far, but this match will give us an indication of the team’s development and progression.”

The trip to Sutton Coldfield will be only Sunderland’s second of the year, having had a 1-1 friendly draw at Glasgow City on Sunday.

“It was a good game and a lot of positives came out of it,” added Fairweather.