Liverpool FC Women correspondent Lauren McCann previews the moment the Reds have been waiting all season to experience.
Champions Liverpool FC Women will finally get their hands on the FA Women’s Championship trophy on Sunday after their penultimate fixture against Sheffield United.
The Reds clinched the title with a 4-2 victory over Bristol City at the start of the month, their last game before a subsequent two week international break.
Having resumed full training this week with all internationals returning from duty with their countries, all focus turns to Sunday at Prenton Park, where the Reds are set to be greeted by a large crowd with promotion party fever is set to be in full swing.
The Reds know they still have a job to do on the pitch before they can enjoy the celebrations with the fans after the game.
With just two fixtures remaining against the Blades on Sunday and Lewes next weekend, they will be keen to stretch their league unbeaten run to a remarkable 20 games and round off a memorable campaign in style.
They face an inconsistent Sheffield United side, who had managed to go seven games without defeat in the league at the beginning of 2022, including back to back 4-0 victories over Blackburn and Watford, before suffering a sobering 4-1 loss to Sunderland last month.
They responded to the heavy defeat with two successive victories over Bristol City and Lewes, which moved the Blades into fifth, one point behind Crystal Palace.
Neil Redfearn will hope the Blades can clinch third or fourth place this season before aiming for promotion next campaign.
The Reds meanwhile are attempting to complete a hat-trick of victories this season over the Yorkshire outfit.
Charlotte Wardlaw scored a stunning opener as Liverpool triumphed 2-0 at Bramall Lane in the last league encounter between the two sides whilst Taylor Hinds netted the winning penalty to secure the bonus point for the Reds after the Continental Cup tie between the two sides ended goalless in November.
Both those players featured for England’s underage teams during the international break, with Wardlaw captaining the U19s in their two games against Belgium and Iceland as they booked their place in the upcoming U19 European Championships.
Hinds meanwhile started both of England U23 friendlies against Holland alongside Missy Bo Kearns, with Scouser grabbing two assists in a 3-0 victory in the second game.
Her performance caught the eye of legendary Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, who commented under the 21 year old’s Instagram post.
Other players on international duty included Welsh duo Ceri Holland Rhiannon Roberts, who featured in the 2-1 defeat by France and the 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan, results which keep them on course to secure a play off place for the 2023 World Cup.
Leanne Kiernan appeared off the bench for Ireland to help Liverpool teammate Niamh Fahey and the rest of the squad hold on for a famous 1-1 draw with Sweden which keeps their slim hopes of reaching the play offs alive.
Rachel Furness’ World Cup dreams meanwhile are over, as Northern Ireland suffered two damaging defeats to Austria and England with the midfielder starting both those games.
Meikayla was involved in New Zealand’s double header against Australia, and she may be in contention to start for the Reds on Sunday with Beard likely to shuffle his pack with promotion already secured.
This may mean that the likes of Jade Bailey, Ashley Hodson and Carla Humphrey may be given the rare chance to start a game having seen their game time limited due to the exceptional form of others.
Katie Stengel, Melissa Lawley, Megan Campbell and Championship Player of the Month Jasmine Matthews are just some of the names who weren’t on international duty, and may start given they are relatively fresh with no competitive action for three weeks.
Another positive for Liverpool this week was the sight of Leighanne Robe back in training, although it remains to be seen whether the defender will be thrown straight back into action.
Sunday’s celebrations have been dampened slightly by the devastating news that Matt Beard’s father Mick sadly passed away on Friday.
It is not yet known whether he will be in the dugout on Sunday, but the outpouring of support from players and fans alike at the club convey the togetherness of this group.
That will only add an extra incentive for the Reds to win and to be able to enjoy a title party which has been three weeks in the making.
The players, staff and fans deserve this after a long season and a number of turbulent years on and off the pitch.
Now it’s time to celebrate, because as the song goes, “Don’t you know pump it up, the Reds are going up!”
Liverpool’s game against Sheffield United kicks off at 12pm at Prenton Park.
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