Roker Report: Thanks for speaking with us Stephen and we hope you’re keeping well, mate. Firstly, what an up and down start you’ve had to the season with the win over Champions Chelsea then the loss to Everton… how’re you feeling being back in the WSL?
Stephen Nelson: It’s great to be back in the top flight. We weren’t talked about much at all in the build-up to the Chelsea game and I know it certainly fired up the Liverpool fans to let it be heard and known that there were two teams in the contest.
Perhaps we had a bit of freedom and more scope to be brave because it was viewed as a free hit. To win was incredible.
I think conversely the media paid too much attention to us in the build-up to the derby, and Everton who have a strong squad that underperformed last season imposed themselves on the contest well from the off.
Everton have done well to get Jess Park on loan and she had a great game. I enjoyed, but didn’t get carried away by the opening win at Prenton and losing to our city rivals at Anfield was a stern reality check for anyone naive to think it’ll be like that every week back in the WSL.
RR: How did it feel being amongst 27,000 fans at Anfield last weekend?
SN: It was great to be there. It did feel a bit like being a host, explaining things to some and greeting others.
I’m a Kop season ticket holder so Anfield is not new to me, but it was was many peoples’ first experience of a match day at the ground. I was disappointed with the people running on the pitch.
On a more positive note I know of families bringing three generations along to see their first Womens game. Hopefully they weren’t put off by Liverpool’s performance and want to come back for more.
RR: How do you think some of the players who starred in the Championship last season have adapted in the two WSL games so far?
SN: Some players have adapted from the off as I thought they would, others will need time and experience. Ceri Holland certainly has the running power to be competitive in the top flight.
As fans we sing about Lawsy’s prowess as a ‘Sweeper keeper’ and her play out from the back against Chelsea was better than that of Musovic. Katie Stengel couldn’t have done much more than what she did in the opener, but we’ve lost Leanne Kiernan until after Christmas and that will hurt.
RR: Do you think Matt Beard will play some of the younger and fringe players on Sunday, and if so who are you looking forward to seeing play who hasn’t featured so far?
SN: Matt did call upon Carla Humphrey in injury time against Chelsea and I think he’d look to give her a start on Sunday.
I’d imagine Eartha Cumings may get a chance to make her competitive Liverpool debut and she impressed mightily playing against us for Charlton last season in the Championship. I hope Hannah Silcock gets a chance to play too.
RR: How important do you think the Conti Cup will be for LFCW? Would you see them as an outside bet for the trophy?
SN: I think first and foremost Liverpool’s priority this season is aiming to consolidate our position in the WSL. Beyond that any positive progress in either of the cup competitions would be a welcome bonus.
I think at this stage everyone is a long-shot for the Conti Cup, but looking at it less romantically and more practically it always teaches you a lot about the character and hunger of your squad.
RR: We played three pretty competitive games against one another last season. What’s your view on how Sunderland have developed over the summer?
SN: After opening with a draw against Durham, I thought the Black Cats would would have had more points on the board, but it’s still early days and I know how competitive the Championship is.
I was impressed by the tenacity of young Grace Ede when we were last in Hetton-le-Hole for the Conti Cup, but she hasn’t figured much since then so what do I know!
Regardless of who’s picked I expect a tough game on Sunday.
RR: Finally, I’ll not ask for a score prediction, but what would be an acceptable result for Liverpool at Eppleton this weekend?
SN: Liverpool are the full time side in this match up and on paper should be expected to win, but football isn’t played on paper and I know Eppleton can be a hard place to visit.