Doncaster Belles: Little offers big boost ahead of Liverpool test

Leandra Little (middle). Photo by Jan Kruger - The FA/The FA via Getty Images
Leandra Little (middle). Photo by Jan Kruger - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Doncaster Rovers Belles have been boosted by the return of influential skipper Leandra Little ahead of their ‘must-win’ cup clash with Liverpool this weekend.

The towering centre-back was substituted during the Belles’ 3-1 defeat at Everton in last Sunday’s cup tie after experiencing dizzy spells following a knock in the pre-match warm-up.

But Belles chief Gordon Staniforth has allayed fears that his stalwart skipper was set to miss the trip to current FAWSL champions Liverpool on Saturday.

“It was a big loss when we had to take her off,” Staniforth told the Free Press.

“At half time, she looked as white as a sheet and our physio Dale Forsdyke recommended she be substituted.

“You just can’t take those chances with head injuries. Leandra being Leandra wanted to keep playing but we knew it was for the best.

“We eased her off training in the early part of the week but she should be back for training tonight and we’re expecting her to be fit for the game at Liverpool.”

Little left the field as the Belles trailed to goals from Simone Magill and Fern Whelan goals in the Continental Cup clash.

A Sue Smith penalty gave the Belles hope of restoring parity, but minutes later the Toffees broke and Brooke Chaplen netted a third.

That result means Doncaster are three points adrift of Group Two leaders Manchester City and a point off qualifying for a semi-final spot in the knockout stages of the competition.

Standing in their way this weekend are Liverpool - who currently occupy second in the group and are in pole position for qualification into the next round.

But Staniforth, whose daughter Lucy plays for the Reds, believes that the Belles are capable of a cup upset.

“If we play the way we did against Everton, be a bit more clinical in front of goal and keep our heads, we will be fine,” he added.

Liverpool v Doncaster Belles, Saturday, 6.30pm kick-off.

* COMING SOON: We feature Belles striker Jess Sigsworth, who has been called up for World Cup duty with England U20s.