With the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) season underway, we take a look at five of the best players currently plying their trade in the North East.

Both of the North East’s representatives in the elite of women’s football – Sunderland and Durham – have started their campaigns positively.

The two sides have won twice in their opening games and sit third in their respective divisions, suggesting there is plenty to be positive about in the North this season.

With that in mind, SportsByte examines five players worth watching closely for the North East duo this season:

1. Kasia Lipka (Sunderland)

A summer signing from Doncaster Belles, the cultured midfielder spent eight years at The Keepmoat Stadium before she decided to seek out a new challenge.

Lipka decided on Sunderland, and the Black Cats were unsurprisingly pleased that the England U23 international decided to make the move to Wearside.

She had long been considered one of the hottest young properties in the game after impressing with confident and composed displays in the centre of the park for the Belles.

While Lipka doesn’t find the net often herself, she certainly provides plenty of opportunities for those around her with a sublime range of passing.

If she continues to perform as well for Sunderland, it would be no shock to see her receive senior international honours in the near future.

2. Beth Hepple (Durham)

Another central midfielder, Hepple has hardly missed a minute for the Wildcats since they were accepted into the FA WSL in 2014.

A prolific goalscorer, she netted 16 for Durham in the 2016 season and has started the first winter season of 2017/18 in a similar vein of form having netted four in her first three appearances – including a brace away at Brighton.

With her excellent footwork and her eye for goal, Hepple will undoubtedly cause plenty of problems for opposition defenders this season.

Make sure you keep an eye out for her set-pieces too – she’s already bagged two free-kicks so far this season.

3. Zaneta Wyne (Sunderland)

Similarly to Lipka, Wyne joined the Black Cats during the summer of 2017 and has started the season positively having made the left wing-back position her own.

Formerly of Icelandic side Thor, the wide player has experience of playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and her pedigree has certainly shown so far.

Pacy, direct and with a fantastic end product, Wyne impressed in the away win at Yeovil and provided opportunities aplenty for her teammates.

Consistency will be the key for the French-American player, but if she can maintain her current level of performance over the course of the season then she will prove to be an astute capture.

4. Zoe Ness (Durham)

A Scottish international, striker Ness rejoined Durham earlier this year after spending two years as a full-time professional with Mallbackens IF in Sweden.

Upon her return, she fitted into the number nine mould at Durham with ease and was a constant threat in the Spring Series – netting a hat-trick at Aston Villa on the final day of the series.

A physical presence, Ness enjoys leading the line and providing chances for her teammates as well as finding the back of the net herself.

While she has only netted once thus far this season – in the Wildcats’ 4-0 win over Watford – expect her to find the net far more regularly as the season progresses.

5. Nicki Gears (Durham)

A regular in the Durham side, bar when she was sidelined with an ACL injury, Gears is a firm fans’ favourite at New Ferens Park thanks in part to her lightning pace.

The left winger has already shown what she is capable of this season, netting against Tottenham and providing the assist for the other goal in the victory over the newly-promoted outfit.

A product of the University of South Alabama, the North Yorkshire native can wreak havoc if allowed time to run with the ball.