Sunderland star fired up for Man City clash

Rachel Furness
Rachel Furness
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SUNDERLAND Ladies are set for a tumultuous night at Hetton – and not just because it’s their first home game in Women’s Super League 1.

The Lady Black Cats are set for one of the biggest fixtures of the season, a visit by moneybags Manchester City at Eppleton CW on Wednesday evening (6.30pm).

It’s going to be interesting playing against some girls you have grown up with.

But the match is made even more special by the fact that so many of the Manchester City players have ‘made in Sunderland’ stamped on them.

Wearside has proven an incredible hotbed of talent with so many established female players having come off the SAFC conveyor belt.

Manchester City have four ex-Sunderland stars, in captain Steph Houghton, midfielder Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze and Demi Stokes.

All four girls learned their football here and have gone off to become big stars in the women’s game.

Houghton and Scott are both local lasses, while Stokes, signed by City from South Florida Bells, is from South Shields, and Northumberland-born Bronze has been captured from Liverpool.

Sunderland star Rachel Furness told the Echo she can’t wait to play her old pals – though she will not come face to face with Houghton, who is recovering from a knee problem.

“A lot of the Man City girls started at Sunderland,” said Furness.

“It’s going to be interesting playing against some girls you have grown up with.

“I’m looking forward to it. I get on well with the girls and they’ve all done well for themselves.

“It shows what hard work does.”

On the subject of hard work, Sunderland seem to be benefiting from plenty of that and no shortage of talent.

Carlton Fairweather’s side began WSL1 in explosive fashion, winning 2-1 at defending champions Liverpool last midweek.

It proved not only that Sunderland can play football it shows that they belong in the top division of the domestic game.

Furness added: “It’s what you dream of as a footballer, playing against the best teams in England.

“It’s an exciting challenge to be playing in the top league.

“To think all the hard work we’ve put in has brought us this chance and we’ve got to try to take it with both hands.”

Few work harder than Furness who plays a pivotal role in the Sunderland midfield.

Such is her presence, Fairweather started the Northern Ireland international against Liverpool at the Halton Stadium in Widnes, despite having only played one brief in pre-season, the 3-1 friendly win at Durham.

The 26-year-old managed 66 minutes before making way for Sophie Williams, though managing over two thirds of the game should benefit her for the visit of City to Hetton.