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 “She’s playing with a smile on her face with plenty of confidence” – Carla Ward on Adriana Leon’s WSL resurgence 

Aston Villa manager Carla Ward was full of praise for her Canadian winger following her summer transfer from Manchester United to the Birmingham based side. 

Leon, who had previously struggled for game time at United, made the move to Ward’s Villa in the summer and has since shown impressive form especially against Bristol City. 

Ward stated: “She’s been excellent for us in recent weeks, she really has. Dri has been unbelievable.

“I think, looking at it it was a case of do we take her off or do we not, it wasn’t a case of she’d done anything wrong, it was more of Ebony [Salmon] would offer a different kind of threat and dimension to try and get in behind. 

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“She [Leon] offered so much throughout the game and she’s playing with a smile on her face with confidence. She’s shown what she’s really about.”

Despite the much-needed point, Ward displayed her disappointment following her side’s dominance throughout the game.

“When you have had 36 opportunities on goal you should probably come away with a lot stronger score line then that.

“That’s the frustrating thing we were dominating them, dominated the ball, in their area, in front of goal but that’s the thing, Bristol took their chances in front of goal, and we were punished.”

Ward has faced plenty of troubles throughout the season both on and off the pitch with the most recent issue coming in the form of the departure of Laura Blindkilde Brown and injuries to both Lucy Stanisforth and Danielle Turner. 

Ward claimed: “We have two midfielders, we don’t have sufficient depth, but we’ve spoken about that a lot, we’ve got to dig in and work together, find a way.

“Maybe we’ll have to see different players in different positions, but we can do that, we know we can, and we will as a group do what’s best.”

The season has been an unprecedented one for Ward with her side looking to push on from a record breaking 2022/23 but results haven’t always gone their way.

“We keep talking about turning it around, but I think it’s just about consistency, if you look at our performances since December, we’ve been fairly consistent. 

“It’s just a case of turning those chances into goals.” 

Villa now turn their attention to the Conti Cup where they’ve been involved in a controversial three-points deduction due to fielding an ineligible player in Noelle Maritz, who had made an appearance for her previous club, Arsenal. 

Due to their points deduction, Marc Skinner’s Manchester United were brutally dumped out of the competition, with the club looking to take action. 

Ward bluntly stated: “It’s not my problem.”

She continued: “The Conti Cup is something we take seriously; we have to go there and win and if we do then we’re in the semi-final of the cup which is definitely something we want to do.” 

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