By Jonty Banks

19th Apr, 2023 | 9:10pm

Anna Patten starts, Ruesha Littlejohn on bench - Aston Villa Women predicted XI v Tottenham

Aston Villa Women are set to return to Women’s Super League action with a tough trip to Tottenham on Sunday (23 April).

Carla Ward’s side suffered FA Cup semi-final heartbreak as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Chelsea last weekend, but they will look to regain their previous momentum that had seen a run of four wins from their last five league games.

With just five games of the WSL season remaining, Aston Villa sit in fifth position and five points ahead of their nearest competitor Everton.

In goal, the ever-dependable Hannah Hampton is expected to take the gloves after a string of fine form that has resulted in two clean sheets from her last four league appearances.

In defence, the continued absence of Scottish international Rachel Corsie to a knee injury sustained in the FA Cup last month suggests that Dan Turner and Arsenal loanee Anna Patten will rekindle their central defence partnership.

Meanwhile, Maz Pacheco, who became the club’s outright leading clean sheet holder in the 5-0 victory against Leicester City last month, should start at left-back, while Sarah Mayling will be deployed at right-back and urged to support Alisha Lehmann in attack.

In midfield, the tried and tested trio of Lucy Staniforth, Jordan Nobbs and Kenza Dali are likely to be tasked with controlling processing, despite Ruesha Littlejohn chomping at the bit for first-team minutes after returning from injury.

The Republic of Ireland international is expected to have to make do with a spot on the substitutes bench, given the form of Villa’s first-choice midfield.

French international Dali has been in terrific form since moving to the West Midlands last summer and has popped up with an impressive seven goals and ten assists from just 26 appearances the term.

Meanwhile, Staniforth, who has failed to miss an Aston Villa match after her January arrival from Manchester United, will start at the base of Ward’s midfield, while Nobbs will look to build on the strong form that earned her a call-up to the last two Lionesses’ squads.

In attack, Rachel Daly will lead the line and aim to reel in the three-goal advantage that Khadija Shaw holds over her at the top of the WSL’s top goalscorer standings. The 31-year-old’s tally of 13 goals from 17 appearances has equated to an incredible record of 0.78 goals scored per 90 minutes.

On either side of the Lioness, Kirsty Hanson and Lehmann are expected to be fielded on the wings.

Aston Villa will be keen on turning Hanson’s season-long loan into a permanent deal after a fruitful season that has reaped four goals and nine assists, while Lehmann will look to replicate the brace she scored in the 5-0 thrashing of Leicester City last month.

In other Aston Villa news, the club might have found the heir to James Milner after what Unai Emery did against Newcastle.