Aston Villa head coach Carla Ward has confirmed that nine players will be missing when her side face Manchester City at The Banks’s Stadium this weekend.
The Villans face the in-form Cityzens in what is their first fixture of 2022 with last weekend’s home clash against Everton having been postponed.
When speaking in her pre-match press conference, Ward said that squad numbers are severely impacted this weekend with injuries, COVID-19 and player unavailability playing a part.
“We have nine missing,” Ward said. “We have a number coming back from COVID, we have some COVID cases, some injuries which is part and parcel of the game I guess.
“Remi Allen’s out, Petz (Ramona Petzelberger) is out, Emily Gielnik is at the Asia Cup, Elisha N’Dow is out, there’s nine out.
“We are thin but we will be ready.”
Despite Aston Villa being short on numbers this weekend, Ward is unable to select players from the club’s WSL Academy side who have represented them so well in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup this season. Ward went on to say that she would have liked to have offered some youngsters opportunities but there are no players available.
She said “We’ve got four on the bench which isn’t a problem but we’ve got five academy players registered, one is in the squad in Liv McLoughlin, but the other ones registered are actually injured for the academy right now which is a shame.
“We won’t have academy players on the bench, not because we don’t want to because they are great young players, it is more that those who have been stepping up sadly at this point are either injured or off with COVID.
“It is one of those things, we’ve got four strong players on the bench and we are not going to moan and groan about it, we’ve got players to go and play the game. While we have been hit in a lot of areas, we get on with it, roll our sleeves up and go and play the game.”
The reverse fixture saw Aston Villa hold Manchester City to a goalless draw in the first half at The Academy Stadium but the hosts capitalised on some sloppy play from their opponents in the second half to run out 5-0 winners. Reflecting on that game, Ward said that there is no place for the individual errors made in that match.
“First and foremost, we have to cut out the individual errors,” the Aston Villa boss said. “I thought that we were exceptional for 45 minutes but then a couple of errors cost us early on (in the second half) and the game changes.
“Against City, Arsenal and Chelsea, you play against them knowing that they are in a different league and whilst you respect them, you have to try and find a way to nullify the game and try to find a weakness that you can exploit. We are looking at moments when we can try and hurt them but appreciating that you are likely to be without the ball for large spells. We will do what we can do, we will control what we can control but like I said, we are coming up against a world class side in my opinion.”
Aston Villa’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture against Manchester City at The Banks’s Stadium kicks-off at 12.30pm on Saturday.