Women's Super League: Bannon's Sunderland eye promotion

Bannon excited by derby contest

Captain Steph Bannon says Sunderland have targeted promotion from the opening Women's Super League 2 campaign but has played down a favourites tag.

The Black Cats won back-to-back Premier League titles before their acceptance into the inaugural WSL 2 for the forthcoming season.

"I'm not sure we're the favourites, there are some strong teams," Bannon told BBC Newcastle.

"We have a lot of confidence, we have experience in how to win a league."

Bannon added: "We're a very young side. Our average age is 20, we haven't made many signings so we're going in with what we had last season but hopefully that will be good enough for us."

With an FA Cup final appearance in 2009 and a fifth-place finish in the Premier League the season before the Women's Super League was created in 2011, Sunderland were one of the clubs expecting to be named in the initial round of franchises.

However, on-the-pitch success did not guarantee them a place at the top table and the team was broken up with players such as Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Jill Scott moving on to national and international success.

Entry into the new WSL set-up is better late than never for defender Bannon, who has been involved in the first team since the age of 16 and was a key member of the squad that missed out three years ago.

"It means everything to the club," she added. "The disappointment back in 2011 was something we couldn't actually put into words.

"I remember we went into a meeting room, we sat down and the chairman told us unfortunately we hadn't been accepted.

"A lot of the girls cried and we didn't know where to go from there, we lost a lot of players but it was one of those cases where we had to regroup and go on forward with what we did.

"Obviously that was winning the league, but this time we got into Women's Super League 2 which is a great achievement."