Women’s football is starting to get back on track after lockdown stopped any form of play. Despite having their league voided after topping the table, Sunderland Ladies will be raring to go in the National League Northern Premier Division and aiming for promotion to the Championship.
However, Sunderland have seen the departures of an array of players over the summer. Bridget Galloway, Mollie Lambert and Charlotte Potts have all left to start new chapters at other clubs. Additionally, the likes of Katie Barker, Rachel Woolston and Georgia Gibson have swapped Sunderland’s red and white for Newcastle’s black and white.
Although the exit of these players has concerned many Lasses’ fans, the announcements of a collection of new players is incredibly exciting. So far Sunderland have managed to sign a mixture of young players who show tremendous promise or have established themselves as regular and reliable players for their former clubs.
Sunderland AFC Ladies is a club that has prided itself on its ability to produce and nurture young talent for both the men’s and women’s game, and this is no different this season for the Lasses. Central-midfielder, Libbi McInnes, and centre-half, Abby Towers, were the first players to be announced by the club last month. Both players have arrived from the Sunderland Regional Talent centre and will be ones to keep an eye on this season.
Recruitment for the upcoming campaign has seen a lot of former Sunderland players coming back for another stint on Wearside. Centre-back, Olivia Watt, comes back after a spell for Middlesbrough. She was pivotal at the back in Boro’s set-up last season. Her 21 appearances for the club earned her Managers’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season for the 2019/20 campaign.
Abbey Joice is another Black Cat making her return to Wearside. Joice played for Sunderland in their WSL days as a forward before moving to Tyneside. Fresh from her signing announcement, she scored in Sunderland’s first pre-season game against Norton last Sunday.
Ladies gaffer, Mel Reay, has signed more young talent in the form of Holly Manders who comes in from Durham. An attacking midfielder, Manders joined the Wildcats from Middlesbrough at the start of the 2019 season. She made thirteen appearances for Durham, scoring one goal in her time there. A promising young player, she’ll be looking to make an impact in the Sunderland squad in the upcoming campaign.
Winger Emily Scarr is another player who’s swapped Teesside for Wearside. The 20 year-old winger certainly isn’t shy of a goal and has scored 56 in 85 games for Middlesbrough in the last five years. Scarr has already got her first goal for the Black Cats against Norton. An incredibly exciting player, she’ll be one to keep an eye on this season.
Adding to the exciting young talent is 18-year-old Beau Studholme. Able to play anywhere in defence or on the wing, she played for Sunderland’s Regional Talent Centre, before joining Manchester City’s development side in 2017. She joined Leicester City in 2019 but struggled with injury. The youngster has already made her mark at Sunderland, netting a goal against Norton, just hours after her signing had been announced.