Sheffield United: Women set to face Tottenham Hotspur following a difficult week
Forty-eight hours after parting company with centre-forward Sophie Jones when a Football Association hearing declared her guilty of racially abusing a Tottenham Hotspur player, Sheffield United Women are preparing to face the Londoners in league action on Sunday.
The match marks the end to a difficult week for Carla Ward's side, who issued a statement confirming Jones' departure on Wednesday.
But it also provides them with an opportunity to focus on football rather than disciplinary matters and build upon their win over Crystal Palace earlier this month. Ebony Salmon and Jade Pennock, who were both on target against Dean Davenport's team, are expected to feature.
Naomi Hartley is also available after making her debut against Palace. Like Salmon, the defender has been signed on loan from Manchester United.
Jones, who retired from the game after her contract with United was cancelled by mutual consent, protested her innocence on social media after the FA's verdict was announced, describing its investigation into an incident which took place when Spurs visited South Yorkshire earlier this year as "a kangaroo court."
"I strongly stand firm that I am not guilty with regards to the charge that the FA have brought against me," she said.
"I am struggling to come to terms with the decision and how the FA can come to a verdict based on probability from the two witness accounts verbally given."
The FA responded with equally strong words of their own while Renee Hector, who had complained she "received some monkey noises" from an opponent during Spurs' 2-1 win at the OLP in January, welcomed the governing body's decision to suspend Jones for five matches.
United, who are eighth in the table, felt they were unfortunate to lose when the two clubs met two months ago. Spurs lead the division and are scheduled to face second-placed Manchester United next week.