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Sunderland v Liverpool - FA Women’s Continental League Cup - Group Stage - Group B - Eppleton Colliery Football Ground

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Lasses Roundtable: How important is it to Sunderland’s chances that Neve Herron is fit to play?

Midfield menace Neve Herron has had a stop-start season due to injury and broke her nose last weekend. She may be back today, but just how crucial is the youngster to SAFC Women’s chances?

Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

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Graeme Field says...

Our chances of winning would definitely be improved if Neve were fit. We’ve got some really good options in midfield if she doesn’t make it though. That energy and ability to get up and down the pitch helped to get the win in our last away game, which came a couple of weeks ago at Crystal Palace.

Mel Reay will not want to risk her if it means that she could have a longer spell out of the side, if she were to aggravate the injury for example. Against a side that is playing its first season in the Championship, we’d like to have our strongest eleven available on the day.

Neve is definitely a game-changer. Her effort from distance against Palace, spilled by the keeper and the loose ball pounced on by Emily Scarr got us a vital opening goal.

So yes, I’d love to see her on the team sheet against Southampton, but if not, we’ve got Libbi McInnes and Grace Ede who could come in and do a good job too. Haway the lasses.

Sunderland AFC Women v Liverpool FC Women: FA WSL 1 Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Amelia Laybourn says...

Herron’s vitality, skill, and physical presence have been refreshing and reassuring for Sunderland in recent times – and I think every fan can agree that if in the event of Neve not being able to play, she will be a huge miss.

But, in spite of this, I do still believe the team has what it takes to adjust and cause countless issues for the opposition – especially during set pieces and on the counter. Neve brings a sense of calm to the game, she could run the length of the field without breaking a sweat – and meet the ball in a single, clean touch – without question.

But, amongst the calm, comes a drive of determination and pure passion for a team she loves – and for me, that is her driving force. She plays with her heart – and that combined with her undeniable skill is a recipe for nothing but success.

So, I digress; Neve is a vital part of a team, but one we should not push – and, ultimately risk in case of a longer stint out of the first eleven. The team can adjust if further rest is needed, and I believe that is the key thing to take from this. Trust in the lasses, and Mel to make the final call.

I truly hope the added FA Player coverage combined with a large home crowd, will enable whoever may be on that pitch to fight hard – and add three points to our tally.


Rich Speight says...

I don’t think there’s a more important player in our squad than Herron. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that as the standard of physical and tactical preparedness improves across the board in tier two, it’s the players with the individual quality and technique to make the difference who will bring the points.

Neve’s a rare talent, when you combine her ability on the ball with natural competitiveness and the drive that comes from playing for your hometown club, she’s a potent weapon and one we have to use whenever she’s available. If that means she plays with a “Zorro mask”, so be it.

Without Herron in the side we are still solid, we’re still capable in dead ball situations, and we can still hit the opposition break. But there’s a wonderful ease with which she strikes a football and finds the right weight of pass that marks her out, and this provides us with the ability to turn defense into attack with one seemingly instinctive action.

On the expanses of the St. Mary’s pitch this afternoon, and with the big crowd watching on in the ground and on the FA Player, she’s the player we need to rise to the occasion. I do hope that Steph Libbey’s hint to me this week that the club is optimistic about her prospects wasn’t a double bluff and we’ll all see her shine in Southampton.

Sunderland v Sheffield United: FA Women’s Championship Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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