View: Laura Blindkilde Brown handed rare start - Aston Villa Women predicted XI v West Ham
Aston Villa will look to continue their three-match unbeaten run when they face West Ham in the fifth round of the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday, 26 February.
The Villans return to action following an extremely successful international break for a number of Carla Ward’s side, including Rachel Daly and Jordan Nobbs, who both featured for the Lionesses in their Arnold Cup victory.
Ward could look to tinker with her side a little in this FA Cup game to accommodate some of the players who have been training with the team at Bodymoor Heath over the last fortnight.
In goal, Hannah Hampton should be given the nod ahead of Anna Leat, despite both goalkeepers fighting for the spot in the last few months. Ward has enjoyed switching her shot-stoppers on a regular basis this season, but Hampton was back to her best against Brighton last time out.
In defence, Maz Pacheco and Sarah Mayling will look to continue their fine form at full-back, which saw both players get on the scoresheet in the 11-0 rout against Fylde in the previous round of the cup.
Rachel Corsie drops to the bench at centre-back to provide her with a rest after gaining her 140th cap for Scotland in the international break, with Arsenal loanee Anna Patten and captain Dan Turner looking to register yet another clean sheet in the competition.
Although Nobbs was rewarded for her fine form by being named the WSL’s player of the month for February, she could be rested for Laura Blindkilde Brown in the midfield. The England Under-19 international has impressed whenever called upon in recent weeks and deserves a chance to start in her favoured midfield role instead of on the right wing.
The 19-year-old will pair up beside Kenza Dali, while Lucy Staniforth is likely to sit at the base of Villa’s midfield three and dictate the tempo of the match. The former Manchester United player will look to build on her first goal for the club in the 6-2 win over Brighton last time out.
Kirsty Hanson will likely be given an opportunity to build on her stunning form – creating three goals and scoring once against the Seagulls – on the left wing, while Alisha Lehmann will be played on the right flank to week havoc with her pace.
Although Ward might be tempted to provide Emily Gielnik with more minutes after returning from a long injury layoff, Daly is simply undroppable right now.
Having scored 16 goals from 18 outings this season, the Lioness proved her England credentials with a match-winning brace against Italy in the Arnold Cup when starting as a number nine. If Aston Villa harbour any ambitions of providing fans with a run in the FA Cup, the former Houston Dash player will be instrumental.
In other Aston Villa news, the club want to reunite with a former player for a fee in excess of £40million in the summer.