Sunderland Women hoping for injury boost

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SUNDERLAND Women boss Mick Mulhern is hoping for some good news on the injury front as he steers the team towards more success.

The Lady Black Cats return to Premier League action tomorrow when they host Coventry City Ladies at Eppleton CW (2pm).

The Midlands outfit are sixth in the National Premier League and proved to be a bogey side last season for Sunderland, taking four points off the eventual champions.

However, leaders Sunderland won 4-1 at Coventry this season and will be looking to complete a double as they move towards a hat-trick of league titles.

Mulhern’s hopes of more glory, though, are not helped by a speight of injuries.

Regular keeper Rachael Laws has been suffering with a hip injury, defender Abby Holmes has been out of action for several weeks after an injury against Manchester City, and striker Natalie Gutteridge has been on crutches after a heavy challenge against title rivals Leeds a fortnight ago.

Other players are also carrying knocks, including top scorer Beth Mead.

“It’s a similar situation as last season,” said Mulhern, whose side also has an FA Cup last 16 clash against Manchester City to come, as well as a League Cup semi-final at home to Leeds this month. They will follow two league games – tomorrow at home to Coventry and next Sunday away to Barnet.

“It’s a very busy schedule and every game is important. I’d love to be able to rest one or two, but it’s important to keep on picking up the points.

“We need to do the best we can in the next two games and put ourselves in a good position to retain the league title.

“We’ll get those out of the way and then start to think about the cup games.

“I’m hoping the injury situation improves and hopefully we can have everyone back to full fitness for the final run-in.”

Off the pitch, it’s an important time for the club too. The club’s bid for a place in the Women’s Super League is handed in to the Football Association on Monday.

The top eight teams in the country start their new season later this month, but next year a second division will be added to the structure.

All teams have to re-submit bids, so there is a chance that Sunderland – clearly the most successful team outside of the top tier – could win a place in the first division, which could increase to ten clubs. Failing that, a place in the second division should be certain.