Sunderland Ladies have been handed a boost ahead after several key players signed up for the new campaign.
After an unsuccessful application to play in the second tier of women's football, and then a rejected appeal, the Lady Black Cats are now set to play in the FA Women's National League Northern Division for the 2018/19 season.
But ahead of their debut campaign in the third tier of women's football, Sunderland have been handed a vital on-field boost with the news that FOUR key players have committed their futures to the club.
There were fears that Mel Reay's squad would all go their separate ways following the demotion but, while many have moved on, Sunderland have moved swiftly to retain some of their talented young stars.
Youngsters Mollie Lambert, Bridget Galloway and Danielle Brown have all signed registration forms for the Black Cats ahead of the new campaign, with an update on the league's administration site revealing that the promising players have all committed their futures to the club.
And complementing the trio will be the experienced Keira Ramshaw, who has also signed-up for the National League season having spent over a decade at the club since joining as a teenager.
Keeping hold of Ramshaw, Lambert, Galloway and Brown - the latter two of whom have recently been involved in England's youth squads - provides some on-pitch stability ahead of what is sure to be a testing campaign.
Several development team players have also been promoted into Mel Reay's first team, while Sunderland are expected to unveil some new additions prior to the season kicking-off.
The Lady Black Cats begin their season with a home game against Fylde Ladies on Sunday, August 19 (kick-off 2pm).