WSL preview: Sunderland and Durham face top flight duo in Continental Cup

SUNDERLAND head coach Claire Robinson believes tomorrow’s Continental Cup tie with Manchester City offers her side the perfect chance to test their WSL 1 credentials.

The Lady Black Cats travel to Sportcity for the 2pm kick-off hoping to cause an upset against their top flight opponents.

The Wearsiders sit top of the second division after their 2-0 win over Yeovil Town last Saturday with Robinson’s side on course to achieve promotion at the first attempt.

They were beaten by reigning WSL champions Liverpool in the same competition in May, but the head coach insists her squad will go to the North-West aiming to cause an upset.

“We’re coming up against a side in good form, but we will go there to cause an upset.

“WSL 1 is where we want to be so playing against the likes of Manchester City is a good way for us to measure where we are. We want to be competing with them.”

Similarly, City were also backed to win WSL 1 after acquiring England internationals Toni Duggan, Karen Bardsley and former Sunderland duo Jill Scott and Steph Houghton, but they suffered teething problems with four defeats in their opening four games.

“They’re a newly-formed side and it is always going to take time for things to work,” Robinson said. They’ve got a lot of very good players and I think we’re just beginning to see them work well together now.

“That makes it difficult for us, but we want to play them when they are at their best.”

Durham general manager Lee Sanders admits the pressure is off his players ahead of their Continental Cup tie with Liverpool.

The Wildcats, who sit bottom of WSL 2, welcome the reigning top flight champions to New Ferens Park tomorrow (2pm kick-off), but Sanders admits their main focus is on their next league game with Aston Villa.

“I’ve told them there are no expectations against Liverpool,” Sanders said. “They just have to go out there and enjoy the experience of playing against these players, enjoy the occasion, and try to get something out of the game in terms of personally and as a team.

“The important game for us is Aston Villa. That’s what our concentration will be on in training. Nobody is going to give the players a hard time if results don’t go our way against Liverpool and Manchester City.

“Obviously we want to do well and if we can get a win it would be fantastic, but I think we’ve got to be realistic and say we are the underdogs in these two games.

“Even though we are playing teams of that calibre it actually takes the pressure off us a little bit because it’s not a league game and we can regroup and go again against Aston Villa.”

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