SUNDERLAND midfielder Rachel Furness insists her side can cope without top scorer Beth Mead as they prepare for tonight’s top of the table clash with Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Mead flies out to Canada today after being named in Mo Marley’s England Under-20 World Cup squad, meaning she could miss up to four FA WSL games depending on how far the Young Lionesses go in the competition.

The first game of her absence sees the Lady Black Cats take on second-placed Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium this evening (6:30pm kick-off), but despite being without Mead, who has seven goals in 11 games this season, Furness is confident goals can come from other areas of the team.

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“There is no doubt that Beth will be a big loss,” the midfielder said. “She is a natural goalscorer and very good at what she does. But her absence will open the doors for other players to step up and be counted and show that throughout the team we can score goals.

“We have already had goals from midfield this season so I, along with the other midfielders, will be looking to contribute and hopefully grab ourselves a goal or two.”

The Lady Black Cats return to league action after two consecutive Continental Cup ties and could extend their lead at the top of Division Two to five points with a win.

Claire Robinson’s side have already beaten Rovers in the cup this season and Northern Ireland international Furness admits the squad goes into the game with the belief that they can retain their place at the top of WSL 2.

She said: “Confidence is key in any team and for any player.

“Knowing how we played against Doncaster earlier in the season and the fact that we got the win will no doubt give the girls confidence going into Saturday’s game.

“It will be one of the toughest games of the season as Doncaster are a very good side. As a team we must stay focused, not be over confident but go into the game with the belief and determination that we can get three points.”

Durham Women are without a game this weekend after their schedule trip to Aston Villa was postponed.

Villa have a number of players on international duty with the Wildcats next in action a week today when they host Doncaster at New Ferens Park (11am kick-off).