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Watford Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Sunderland Women announce retained list and new contracts, with more news to come!

Sunderland AFC Women have confirmed that they’ve secured five of our best players on new deals, but there are one or two big names missing from the retained list. Charlotte Patterson has all the news for you.

Louise Griffiths & Emily Scarr, two of the five players to sign new deals with SAFC Women
| Photo by Richard Heathcote - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

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Yesterday Sunderland Women announced the news of the team's retained list following the end of the 21/22 season, as well as the five key players signing new contracts, seeing them stay with the team as they look to build in their second consecutive season in the FA Women’s Championship.

The news has been met with a lot of satisfaction from some Sunderland fans; the core of the team will stay with the Lasses and they head into the 22/23 season with the lessons learnt from last year and a goal of improving their standing in the league.

So let's have a further look at who stayed, who has left and, what it means for the club.

Key Retentions

Keira Ramshaw

It cannot be understated just how key, pivotal and important arranging a new deal with captain Kiera Ramshaw is. She loves this club and is a diehard fan, committed and loyal, Ramshaw is one of the longest-serving players in the team alongside midfield partner Abbey Joice.

Having such an experienced figurehead on the team can only seek to set an example and inspiration to the rest of the team and those that join, and she’ll be becoming a mother later this year too!

Louise Griffiths

Despite being 23-years-old, Griffiths exudes fantastic confidence and composure in her abilities. Playing predominately at left-back in a back four, Griffiths has struck as good partnership with veteran Grace McCatty at centre-back; with the two of them communicating well and providing cover for each other when one likes to surge forward.

She is very much a modern fullback in the sense that, as well as being involved with her defensive duties, she also likes to get forward and assist in the attack. With 21 appearances across the season, she boasts similar stats to that of Abbey Joice, with an average of 60.38 Total Actions/involvements per game.

Sunderland Ladies v London City Lionesses - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Emily Scarr

Emily Scarr has evolved a lot over the course of the last year and is clearly growing into each game, to the point that she has become one of the first names on the team sheet. She is a diligent worker who does a lot of defending with Sunderland’s low block when they are not in possession. She plays wide on the wings and is someone who can cut inside or down the line for her team.

She will change her location throughout the game to efficiently locate space, and she has a solid rapport with her full-backs, feeding overlaps and executing one-two combinations with the likes of Louise Griffiths, Megan Beer or Faye Mullen.

As she wins more minutes and appearances, she will have more time to enhance her creativity, critical thinking, and involvement in the build-up phases. She had 4 goals and 1 assist in the league last season, and I believe she will improve on those numbers next season.

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

Jessica Brown

At only 18-years-old, Brown is a fantastic and upcoming talent. Dynamic, flexible and assured, she looks to get forward and create attacking threats at every opportunity.

Featuring in 21 games last season and getting two goals to her name in the very first match and last match of the season, Brown is another player which we have watched continue to grow and exceed expectations every week.

She has had an incredible year, playing senior football for Sunderland Women and winning three trophies with Gateshead College. Despite being so young, she is one of the team's most reliable players and biggest contributors as she races up the field.

Tying down Brown only suggests a great statement of intent from the club as we look to add and keep yet another homegrown talent in the side, helping support them to mature and prosper.

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

Emma Kelly

Kelly adds a different facet to the way Sunderland play. Always seeking to create opportunities and play with composed aggression as she surges up the field and links up with teammates.

With incredible vision and intelligence, Kelly reads the game very well, searching for potential attacking avenues or teammates running into space. She displays amazing confidence and calmness as always when playing for the Lasses, quietly stepping out tackles or making fantastic twists despite being under pressure.

Kelly has become a key player for Sunderland since her return from Birmingham City and undeniably adds a little bit of technical flair and energy to the side.

Abbey Joice

Similarly to Keira Ramshaw, Abbey Joice is a loyal servant of Sunderland Football Club. She has been playing for the lasses on and off since 2014, returning to the club in 2020 after a stint on Tyneside and re-signing for the Championship season in 2021.

Having someone of her composure, experience and tenacity is key to the lasses being able to continue being competitive at this level.

Whilst she might not receive the plaudits or accolades that some of her teammates get, Joice is utterly critical to the Lasses’ midfield. She dictates the tempo and pace of the game with great vision and intelligence.

It is no wonder that last season that she played in 21 of 22 fixtures and boasted an average of 66.54 total actions/involvements each game.

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

Key Releases

Maria Farrugia

It is sad to see Farrugia leave after a few years with the club. Undoubtedly a talented player with a great amount of finesse and skill, it hasn’t always worked out quite how the Maltese forward/winger would have liked during her time on Wearside.

A Foundation of Light Scholar, she has always been committed to the cause, she has always been heavily involved in all games she has participated in and has been on the receiving end of some bad luck at times.

However, none of us will forget her incredible chipped goal against Sheffield United this season in a hurry, so much so that it won our very own Roker Report goal of the season.

It is unclear what is next for Farrugia, whether she will stay in England with and sign with another club or perhaps return home and ply her trade in the Maltese Women’s League. Either way, we thank Farrugia for her time with the club and wish her all the best going forward.

Sunderland v Sheffield United: FA Women’s Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Eve Blakey

A hot prospect, Blakey has spent her time playing for Gateshead College under gaffer Mel Reay whilst also playing with Sunderland Women. She undoubtedly has a keen eye for goal and was instrumental in Gateshead College achieving three trophies this season with her goals.

However, the success at college level has not quite equated to success at senior level with Sunderland this season. After some very promising performances in the National League, unfortunately, we saw little of Blakey this season with only 9 appearances (the majority coming in cup matches) and an average of 23.6 minutes of playing time per game.

It was difficult for her to break out and show what she could offer, and it was announced last month that Blakey has signed for the University of Louisiana Monroe where she will join the US college soccer scene as she continues with her education.

She may well find herself drawing interest from US clubs in the near future or, like so many before her, return to Europe as a more rounded footballer. But for now, we wish Eve the best of luck in her new journey and future endeavours.

Sunderland Ladies v Blackburn Rovers - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Daisy Burt

Signed by Sunderland Women in December 2021 from the Sunderland Regional Talent Centre, Burt was brought in to add some more depth to the squad and get invaluable learning experience by training with the senior side. Her only appearance and minutes came in a league cup game against Aston Villa last season.

The 17-year-old has had call ups for the England U17 side and will seek to improve herself further by seeking opportunities with other clubs. We wish Daisy all the best for the future with Durham’s development squad!


Pause for thought


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