Beth Mead will return to spearhead Sunderland Ladies’ attack for tomorrow night’s crucial Women’s Super League 1 clash with Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Mead sat out Sunday’s Continental Cup match between the two clubs at Sheffield following a knock to her knee in the 5-0 WSL1 defeat to Chelsea last Wednesday.
It’s a cliche but it is a must-win game and, at the end of the day it’s all about points. We need the win.CARLTON FAIRWEATHER
The 21-year-old was a crucial absentee as Sunderland failed to capitalise on a hatful of chances against the Belles, paying the price too as they were eliminated 2-1.
Like a good politician, head coach Carlton Fairweather told the Echo that Mead was “in contention” to play at Eppleton CW (kick-off 6pm).
The Lady Black Cats need goals if they are to beat the Belles.
Fairweather describes it as a “must-win game” and it’s certainly a must-not-lose fixture – should the Belles take victory at Hetton they would send the hosts to the foot of WSL1 and still have four matches in hand.
“I think we had 15 or 16 goal attempts on Sunday against Donny,” said Fairweather. “Three or four were one-against-ones with the keeper.
“Beth did not play and you’d like to think she’d convert a ratio of those chances.
“The girls played well and they’ve trained well too so the confidence has risen.
“It’s a cliche but it is a must-win game and, at the end of the day it’s all about points. We need the win.
“It will be about goals – goals win games.
“Beth will be in contention.”
After conceding 10 goals in the last two WSL1 games, to Arsenal and Chelsea, leaking just two to Rovers was a step forward.
Fairweather sent out a new-look rearguard with Hilde Olsen in goal, Abby Holmes restored at right-back and Danielle Brown teaming up with Hayley Sharp at the heart of the defence.
It meant vice-captain Rachael Laws and skipper Steph Bannon were sat on the bench at Dronfield Road.
Laws is likely to regain the keeper’s gloves tomorrow, while Fairweather faces the dilemma of whether to alter the back four, who proved effective against the Belles.
Lucy Staniforth will start after coming through the full 90 minutes in the Continental Cup following her recovery from a knee injury.
Keira Ramshaw though will be missing after suffering slight concussion.