England Lionesses hit Wearside this Saturday in a hotly anticipated World Cup qualifier, as the national team’s group campaign rolls on against Austria at the Stadium of Light (KO 12:30pm).
Sarina Wiegman’s side have enjoyed a blistering run of form in their opening four qualifying matches, scoring a gargantuan 32 strikes and not conceding a single goal.
Former Sunderland striker Beth Mead, now of Arsenal, has hit five goals in qualifying and joint-top-scores with Manchester City’s Ellen White – who could be in line for a milestone 100th cap should she feature at the weekend.
Beth England and Ella Toone each have four, with goals coming from seven other players in a prolific start for the nation.
Sunderland-born Jill Scott – an icon of the women’s game nationally and worldwide – could make it a remarkable 154 caps on Saturday, whilst uncapped duo Katie Zelem and Hannah Hampton have been included in the squad.
Established former Wearside stars Lucy Bronze and captain Steph Houghton remain sidelined through injury, with Leah Williamson’s hamstring issue ruling her out.
The two international weekends so far this season have provided ample opportunity for the Lionesses to feast on their opening matches – September saw them put North Macedonia to the sword 8-0 in Southampton, before a 10-0 rout in Luxembourg.
October proved just as fruitful, Wiegman’s team enjoying another 10-0 drubbing, this time against Latvia in Riga, shortly after a 4-0 win over Northern Ireland at Wembley.
Second-placed Austria sit second in England’s qualifying group and could prove the sternest test so far, having won three and drawn one of their opening four. Following Saturday’s contest in SR5 is a trip down the A1 to Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium three days later, where the return fixture with Latvia beckons.
Austria have enjoyed three convincing victories themselves, putting eight past Latvia and six beyond North Macedonia, before a 5-0 home win over Luxembourg and a gritty 2-2 draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast. Striker Nicole Billa, playing club football for Hoffenheim in Germany, leads their scoring charts in qualifying with an impressive six from four games.
Don’t miss England Lionesses’ trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday – tickets remain available via the FA website by clicking here. The Roker End and East Stand will be opened for the match.
There will also be an opportunity for supporters to meet the SAFC Ladies squad between 11am-12pm in the Fanzone, which will be hosted at the Beacon of Light between 10:30am and 12:30pm.