Stephanie Roche eyes league title as Sunderland look to keep pressure on table toppers Chelsea
Stephanie Roche is hoping that Sunderland will continue their title push against Birmingham tomorrow with Champions League ambitions very much on the line.
The Lady Black Cats travel to the Midlands today sitting in second place in the top-flight of women's football, the FA WSL 1, with just four games remaining.
With league leaders Chelsea facing third-place Arsenal also this weekend, and just three points separating the top four, the season is coming to a dramatic conclusion.
With the top two qualifying for the Champions League, Independent.ie columnist Roche says it is an exciting time to be at the club.
"After securing promotion, the goal at the start of the season was simply survival," she says, "but the girls have been brilliant all season.
"We haven't been getting away by talking about winning the title and European qualification, we just take it one game at a time, but we know there is a lot at stake with only a few games left."
Sunderland go into the game on the back of a cup defeat to Man City and head coach Carlton Fairweather has conceded that the fixture against Birmingham is a "must-win" game.
The Republic of Ireland international is coming back into full fitness as the season draws to a close and is hopeful of making a strong contribution before the campaign ends.
"It is a shame the season is coming to a close as I am almost there with my match fitness. I came off in the second half against Liverpool in the last league game, but I am close to getting 90 minutes under my belt. I have worked hard since I arrived at the club, but there is a huge difference between general fitness and match sharpness.
"There is huge anticipation with so much to play for and I plan on making a big contribution for the title run-in."