BETH’S LIKE A FIFTH NEW RECRUIT AT SUNDERLAND
SUNDERLAND manager Carl- ton Fairweather has made four signings in the close season, but he believes tying hot-shot striker Beth Mead to the club could prove his best bit of business.
Mead took WSL 1 by storm last term, following Sunderland’s promotion to the top flight, finishing the season with 12 goals from 14 games.
Though England have an embarrassment of riches at the sharp end of the pitch, the 20-year-old was named in manager Mark Sampson’s squad for a post-season minitournament in China.
And Fairweather knows that keeping local-girl Mead in the North East is vital to his team’s plans.
“It was very important to keep hold of Beth,” he said.
“Her challenge this season is: can she emulate what she did last year? And can she kick on and get herself involved in the England setup as well? Hopefully, we can all work together to help her achieve that.
“We’ve brought in four new players, Kylla Sjoman from Celtic, Lucy Staniforth from Liverpool, Krystle Johnston from Manchester City and Rachel Pitman from America.
“Rachel actually played in Iceland as well, so we’ve got a well-rounded player in her.
“We’re looking to get a fifth player in before the transfer deadline. If not, we’re pleased with what we’ve got.”
Sunderland put a black cat among the pigeons last term, with an opening day win at champions Liverpool and were in the title race ahead of the World Cup.
Two points from their final five games, though, meant Fairweather’s team had to settle for fourth place.
And, ahead of Saturday’s season-opener against newly-promoted Reading, Fairweather is forced to admit he is finding it tough to predict what 2016 might bring.
“The main thing for us is to make sure we can stay up and that we work well individually but also collectively,” he added.
“If we do that then, hopefully, we can stay in the division and see where we go from there.
“Pre-season’s gone very well.We’ve played a few games and we’re looking forward to getting on with the real thing now.
“We won’t be taking Reading for granted, definitely not. They’re a very good side and they competed very well last season, finishing champions of WSL 2.”
Before that, though, Sunderland take on WSL 2 side Yeovil in the FA Cup fifth round this afternoon.
Fairweather’s team were knocked out in round three last term, but this time he believes they are in it to win it.
“You never know what can happen in this game. Could we challenge for silverware?” he said.
“Last year we didn’t expect to come into the cup when we did and, hopefully, we’re better prepared this time round.We’re all looking forward to taking on Yeovil.
“It will be a very tough game and we will pay them every respect that they
MACKEM MARAUDER: Striker Mead took the top division by storm last year