Roker Report: How would you rate Sheffield’s recent performances and their league position? Are you overperforming, underperforming, or just what you expected?

John Slingsby: Recently, we have experienced a bit of a resurgence from where we were even a month ago. We have changed managers with Johnathan Morgan taking over from Neil Redfearn after a torrid half season where we failed to win the league between September and February. Morgan has had some decent results since he took over, with a great away win at London City Lionesses before our loss at the weekend against Palace. I think optimism is rising again, especially since Morgan is our first full-time head coach, which hopefully shows the club is more committed to making the team full-time in the very near future.

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RR: The Blades are currently 11th in the league and only 8 points ahead of bottom-place Coventry United. Are you or the fans nervous? Or do you think you can do enough to keep yourself safe?

JS: I think there was a lot of nerves up until the win against Charlton. I think going without a league win for 5 months didn’t help allay those fears, and we seemed pretty down until then. Luke Turner really did a fantastic job of getting us back to playing positive, forward-footed football, and he’s been as much a part of our mini-renaissance as Morgan has been. I’d like to think we have a safe footing at the moment with the final stretch of the season in the offing, but obviously things can change on a dime in football so I think there will be some nerves until security is in place. fully confirmed.

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RR: Who would you say could be a thorn in Sunderland’s side? Who should we take care of?

JS: Our attacking triumvirate of Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Mia Enderby and Bed Rayner can cause any team trouble in this division when everyone’s on the same page. Sweetman-Kirk is still a regular goalscorer at this level, and her eye for goal and her ability to regularly stretch defenders is a huge asset in a league like The Championship. Aside from those three, Georgia Walters has had a bit of a resurgence in the side since she left Redfearn. She got the winning goal against Charlton and of late has been causing problems with her ability to land poisonous shots in dead ball situations.

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RR: Have there been any rising stars for Sheffield this season?

JS: I think our young player blood has been one of the biggest positives of the season. Our RTC has been producing quality players like Lucy Watson and Fran Kitching, and even Beth England and Millie Bright since further back. That line of talent has continued this season, with Mia Enderby the standout of the new group. Mia has scored six goals this season in her breakout campaign and is a regular on the England youth scene. It would be great to keep it past the end of the season but, like Watson last year, not being a professional team leaves the possibility of our best young players moving much more of a reality than if we were professionals. As well as Mia, Chene Muir and Tamara Wilcock have been regulars in the first team, and fellow youth players Molly Graham and Ruby Clarke have become regulars on the bench in recent weeks.

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RR: United have scored 14 and conceded 14 in 16 games, with Sweetman-Kirk and Enderby notching four goals apiece. Where do you think Sheffield have had the most problems this season?

JS: I think our biggest downfall this season has been our inability to knockout opponents when we’re on top. We’ve just lacked a bit of power in front of goal, and it’s really hurt us at times this season. We’ve started creating more opportunities lately, we just need to start taking advantage of them.

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RR: Is there anyone in the current Sunderland squad that you feel the Blades should be careful of?

JS: Emily Scarr caused us a lot of trouble when we played Sunderland last season, especially when you beat us quite easily towards the end of last season. I think if we can subdue Emily a little bit, we’ll do someone some good.

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RR: How do you see the outcome of this game?

JS: As long as it’s not a repeat of when Sunderland beat us last season, I’ll be very happy. I will go for a very entertaining 2-2 draw.

Photo by Nigel Roddis – The FA/The FA via Getty Images


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