Sunderland boss ready to face Liverpool challenge

Poppy Pattinson is added to the Sunderland squad tonight.
Poppy Pattinson is added to the Sunderland squad tonight.
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Sunderland Ladies face an acid test in the WSL1 Spring Series tonight when they come up against leaders Liverpool.

The Lady Black Cats have surpassed nearly all expectations by leaving a troubled winter behind them and making an unbeaten start in the division.

Under new head coach, Melanie Reay, the Wearsiders lie fifth and have yet to concede a goal.

But this evening, they tackle a side who can’t stop scoring - the Reds lead the top flight by three points from Manchester City, having scored 14 times in four games.

Reay says the squad is looking forward to the challenge at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes (kick-off 7pm).

“Everyone is happy in the camp,” said Reay, who is assisted by Amber Whiteley, Vicki Greenwell and Paul Parker.

“We’ve had 10 days between games, so it’s been a good time to reflect on what we’ve done so far and talk about pushing on and getting more positive results.

“The girls have been great so far and very receptive to me, my ideas and my team. While I have been at the club a while, I’ve been working to what the head coach has set out.

“Now, I am able to get my ideas in place and the squad have reacted well.

“We’re unbeaten in three and taken points off Arsenal, something we haven’t been able to do previously.

“We are aware how well Liverpool are playing and know the threat they carry - we’re going to have to keep it tight.

“Liverpool have some good players, but we can’t go there with any fear. We’re playing well ourselves.

“It’s been nice to keep the clean sheets, but having watched back the Bristol game we could have won by more, it could easily have been two three.”

Reay will have the luxury of a full 18-woman party for the trip to Widnes, a ground where Sunderland are unbeaten in WSL football.

Danielle Brown and Hilde Olsen have recovered from injury, while teenage prospect Poppy Pattinson comes into the squad after being on England duty in the Under-17 European Championship.

Defender Kylla Sjoman has returned to training having been out for a year after knee surgery.