Birmingham City manager Carla Ward ahead of her side's Barclays FA Women's Super League fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion - Image provided by FA Captureweb

Carla Ward talks rivalry, selection headaches and alternative venues ahead of Second City derby

Birmingham City and Aston Villa are set to contest the second instalment of the Second City derby on Wednesday evening with the pair scheduled to meet at the SportNation.bet Stadium.

Blues boss Carla Ward spoke to the media, including FA Women’s Super League Full-Time, about a range of topics earlier today in Birmingham City’s pre-match press conference.

Ward started by giving an update on Birmingham City’s squad, stating that the club are in a much healthier place than in the reverse fixture earlier in the season when she could only name two players on the bench.

“This is probably the first time that we’ve really had what I would call a headache, which is good, so it has been quite a nice week” said Ward. “We’ve got probably 17 available for tomorrow.”

Ward then paid tribute to new signing Ruby Mace, who made her debut on Sunday, along with Jamie-Lee Napier, who scored Birmingham City’s equaliser against Everton.

When speaking about Mace, the Birmingham City boss said “She was outstanding, she looks like she’s been in the division for years.”

Ward then commented on Napier by saying “She has done brilliantly working on her game getting forward and you know what, I was delighted for her on Sunday because she’s worked so very hard since she’s come in on loan from Chelsea.

“She’s a complete clown if I’m honest but she’s a real personality that we like having around so everyone was delighted that she got that first goal.”

“That’s the beauty of the loan system, you can really give a platform to young, emerging talent.”

Ward went on to reflect on her side’s previous meeting with Villa when the Blues won 1-0 in the first Barclays FA Women’s Super League game between the clubs and said she hoped for a better match.

“We were very, very poor, it was our worst performance of the season” said Ward. “I was delighted that we came away with a win but I would like to think that we’ve come on since then.

“However, I think Villa have come on since then as well.

“Neither team looked like they even got going (at Villa Park), so you hope that it’s a little more exciting than the last one.

“They (Villa) are the ones with the big resources, the big money, the big backing, so a lot of the pressure is on them.

“They’ll probably need to win it more than we do but naturally, we want to win it for the fans.”

The UK has been severely hit with ice and snow this week with temperatures set to dip well below freezing on both Tuesday and Wednesday evening. When asked about the possibility of the game being postponed due to adverse weather conditions, as has happened with a couple of Birmingham City’s home matches already this season, Ward replied “For me, the game just has to go ahead.

“No matter where or how, we have to get the game on, we have to play the game.”

Ward mentioned that there have been conversations about finding alternative venues if needed, however, as of this morning’s press conference there were no developments.

When asked by FAWSL Full-Time if last weekend’s shock results showed that the league is becoming more competitive, Ward reflected on the ‘wild weekend’ by saying “It is competitive. I think anyone can take points off anyone on their day but, you know, ultimately, I still do believe there’s two leagues within the league.

“I don’t change my stance on that, I think you’ve got your top four and then the rest of the pack.

“I think it’s good for the game, it’s good for the neutral, it’s good for everybody.

“Naturally, although we were disappointed when we got off the pitch seeing the results not going our way, it almost gives you a little bit more hunger and fire in your belly to go and increase again.

“You get to a number that you think is safe and then a couple of things change so you have to go again and now it’s exciting.

“It’s exciting for everyone, including ourselves that are involved in it.”

The Second City derby between Birmingham City and Aston Villa is set to kick-off at 6pm on Wednesday evening with fans being able to watch the match live on the FA Player.

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