Sheffield United Women pair Maddy Cusack and Sophie Walton make plea to Women’s Championship club

Influential Blades Women duo Maddy Cusack and Sophie Walton have both stressed the need for reinforcements this month.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 4:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:11 pm

Head coach Neil Redfearn has signalled his intention to make up to four new signings in the January transfer window after seeing an already small group of players available to him depleted by injuries in the first part of the season.

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That has also coincided with a run of six games without a win in the Women’s Championship for Sheffield United, but they were 3-0 victors over lower-division Stourbridge in the FA Cup last time out.

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A four-week-long winter break means Redfearn will at least be able to welcome defender Ellie Wilson back into the fold when his side returns to action away to Charlton Athletic on Sunday.

Wilson, 24, has been out for more than a year owing to an ACL injury.

“We are really short on bodies,” said midfielder Cusack, who has made more appearances for the Blades in the second tier – 71 – than any other player.

"We do need some more players in. We have had players like Rhema (Lord-Mears) out which is a big loss for us and she’s not really been replaced.

Maddy Cusack battles with Ceri Holland of Liverpool during the The FA Women's Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Photo: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"That seemed to have been the changing point in our season. We need some more quality in and around training and on matchdays.”

Midfielder Lord-Mears played for both Manchester City and United in her youth and could return in March, having been ruled out since September when a blood clot was discovered in her lower leg.

A threadbare squad is holding Redfearn’s team back, according to player-coach Walton.

She said: “I just think we are a couple short of being really able to challenge at the top.

Sheffield United player coach Sophie Walton beats Leicester's Sophie Barker to a header. Photo: Andrew Yates/Sportimage.

"We are training three times a week so we are not really too far off (the division’s full-time clubs).”

Cusack joined the Blades in 2019 and has since helped them to three consecutive top-five finishes.

She revealed the team had targeted a promotion push at the start of this season, but a poor run of form before Christmas has seen those ambitions watered down.

Cusack said: "For us it's just about getting consistency back in our game, producing good performances on a regular basis.

"It’s been difficult because sometimes we have had three games in a week and the starting XI has been the same.

"That highlights the need to get a few more players in.

"The biggest regrets I have is that the last three years we have had a great team, our starting XI was brilliant, I think it’s a missed opportunity in terms of going up.”

Former England youth international Walton said there were no excuses for the team’s recent results, however, which have left them fourth from bottom.

She added: “We know we need to add results. As much as we know we are part time we should be getting better results than we have.”

After Charlton, Sheffield United host Coventry United Ladies next weekend.

The West Midlands outfit, who boast two-time Sheffield United Women player of the year Katie Wilkinson in their ranks, as well as another ex-Blade in defender Nat Johnson, have been saved from liquidation after a last-minute deal to rescue them was agreed.