Ahead of the start of the FA Women’s Super League 2 (FA WSL 2) Spring Series, Richard Laverty previews each team.
Aston Villa were nicely settled in mid-table last year and while it did mean they’d dropped a position from 2015, their mixture of youth and experience was enough to keep them above the likes of London Bees and only two points behind an impressive Sheffield FC side.
Manager Joe Hunt hasn’t wasted time in bringing young talent into the team since the beginning of last year and though it’s difficult to see how the club can challenge the top sides in FA WSL 2, they will once again be comfortably clear of those below.
A thumping 7-1 win over Cambridge in the FA Cup was the perfect way to kick off the year and with the club now acquiring new faces, Villa are at least stable heading into the first weekend of the season.
Where to Find Aston Villa
The Lamb Ground, Tamworth
Joe Hunt is one of the longest-serving managers in FA WSL 2, taking the helm in 2012 when Villa were in the National League. Progress throughout the club has now seen them become a stable FA WSL side and Hunt has been the mastermind behind that progression.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to many if Beth Merrick was snapped up by an FA WSL 1 club in the future given the talent she showed on a regular basis for Aston Villa during 2016. It also took the winger just 26 minutes against Cambridge to open her account this season and the youngster can also play in midfield or as an attacker. A regular in the England youth squads and still just 21, Merrick’s future possibilities are endless.
Another member of the Villa squad who has come through their own Centre of Excellence under Joe Hunt. The striker has been Villa’s top scorer in both of their last two FA WSL 2 campaigns and still has her best years ahead of her. With goals at times hard to come by for those fighting away in the middle of the table, Wilkinson continues to breathe life into Villa and should keep doing so in 2017.
The young forward rounds off a trio of players who come through Villa’s academy at various points in the last couple of years. Like Merrick, Rouse has been around the England youth squads for a while now and was part of the Villa side that made the 2015 Youth Cup final. While you do need some experience in your front line, these three youngsters can ensure Villa continue to progress.
One to Watch
Just days away from her 20th birthday, the attacking fullback has signed for Aston Villa after leaving Notts County at the end of last season. The teenager made several appearances for County so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to hit the ground running if she gets a good run of games at Villa. With Hunt consistently putting his faith in youth, Hassall could be the latest to thrive under his guidance.
Bar Hassall, incomings have been on the quiet side at Villa this winter but the club have successfully held onto the majority of their key players so far. Jade Richards and Rouse are the latest players to commit to new deals and the likes of Lucy Shepherd and Lucy Porter have also signed new deals along with the aforementioned Merrick and several others. The only blot on the copybook is the departure of talented midfielder Sarah Mayling to local rivals Birmingham City.
Spring Series Prediction: 7th
Start typing to see results or hit ESC to close
Deprecated: uasort(): Returning bool from comparison function is deprecated, return an integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero in /home/ourgam6/public_html/wp-includes/category-template.php on line 903 NWSLEnglandUSWNTFA WSLcollege