Sunderland and Durham players called up to serve their countries

The Northern Echo: GETTING READY: Sunderland Women’s FC held their media day last week GETTING READY: Sunderland Women’s FC held their media day last week

NATIONAL call-ups see several Sunderland and Durham players appearing across the continent in coming days.

Sunderland’s attacking midfield player Rachel Furness is in the Northern Ireland senior squad for World Cup qualifiers against Sweden at Portadown’s Shamrock Park tomorrow and against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Thursday.

Team-mates, forwards Beth Mead and Abbey Joice, are in Mo Marley’s England Under- 19 squad for elite round Euro qualifiers against Denmark in Vantaa tomorrow, and against Serbia and hosts Finland in Helsinki on Monday and Thursday respectively.

Durham’s free-scoring midfield player Zoe Ness is in Scotland’s Under-19 squad for its elite qualifying round group matches against Iceland in Velika Gorica tomorrow and against hosts Croatia and Russia in Zagreb, also on Monday and Thursday respectively.

Sunderland’s Keira Ramshaw and Bekki Bass have also received call-ups to join the England Under-20 training camp at St George’s Park, Burton, from April 20- 22.

Both Sunderland and Durham are preparing for FA Women’s Cup fifth-round ties next weekend, when the Lady Black Cats host WSL champions Liverpool, and the Wildcats travel to meet Portsmouth, at Gosport, both on Sunday April 13.

Those games are just four days ahead of the opening round of WSL2 fixtures, which include the much-anticipated first-day derby between Durham and Sunderland at New Ferens Park on April 17.

FA Women’s Premier League – Newcastle have appointed former Premier League player Trevor Benjamin as their new first-team coach. The ex-Cambridge, Leicester, West Brom, Norwich and Crystal Palace striker has taken over coaching duties from Michael Havelock, who was in charge of the United first team for three years.

Benjamin has been based in the North-East in recent years, seeing out his playing days with Northern League clubs Bedlington Terriers and Morpeth Town, who he also managed.

Latterly he has also been with Northern Alliance League side Seaton Delaval Amateurs.

A United club statement said Benjamin has taken over first-team affairs at Coach Lane “with immediate effect”.

Club chairman Lee Devlin welcomed Benjamin to the fold, adding: “We look forward to him bringing his years of experience as a professional, and as an international, to the club.”

The 35-five-year-old twicecapped Jamaican international’s coaching experience to date has included working with many younger players through his role with the charity Give Racism the Red Card.

Benjamin said he was looking forward to his new role.

“The coaching staff and I are excited about the challenge ahead. We’ve got big ambitions and big expectations.”

There will be no immediate action for the new coach to oversee as United are without a match until April 13.

Sunday will be their second blank Sunday after last weekend’s scheduled Northern Division home fixture against Sporting Club Albion was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Coach Lane.

Northern Combination – Back-on-track Chester-le- Street are seeking a third straight win when they host fourth-placed Stockport County at Moor Park, on Sunday.

The Cestrians lie clear in eighth spot after following the 4-0 victory at Leeds City Vixens, with a 1-0 home win against previous leaders Mossley Hill last Sunday.

That result let in Huddersfield, whose 6-0 win at Sheffield United put them top on goal difference, but with three games in hand on Mossley Hill.

Middlesbrough remain fifth after a 4-2 win at Wakefield last Sunday.

Jasmine McNaught, Sarah Manning, Jenny Duffy and Nicky Duckling were the Boro scorers against the bottom team.

But they sit out this weekend with no game, returning to action at Tranmere, on April 13.

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