Aston Villa boss refuses to follow Lioness blueprint for ‘unbelievable’ new signing Rachel Daly

Aston Villa Women manager Carla Ward insists that new signing Rachel Daly won’t be deployed in defence, as she was under Sarina Wiegman at Euro 2022.

England star Daly started every game at left-back in the home tournament from which the Lionesses emerged victors in July, despite being accustomed to playing as a striker for club Houston Dash.

Since lifting the trophy - England’s first ever major tournament silverware - Daly has left the National Women’s Soccer League side to compete in the Women’s Super League with Aston Villa.

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Saving a half-season loan spell at West Ham United during the 2020/2021 season, Daly has spent the last ten years playing in the United States, and so the 30-year-old’s return to the UK marks a strong addition to the WSL and an exciting development for fans - who might not have seen what Daly is capable of offensively.

In six years at Dash, Daly achieved an average hit rate of more than one goal per three games and has lately donned the armband for the Texas side.

England manager Sarina Wiegman saw her value and, though the likes of Ellen White were ahead of her in the queue for a place up top, the versatile player fought off competition from established full-backs Alex Greenwood and Demi Stokes for a spot in Leah Williamson’s back line at Euro 2022.

Villa boss Ward doesn’t find it hard to understand Wiegman’s choice - but is looking forward to realising Daly’s true worth.

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“She’s played at left back for a country because she’s a wonderfully talented footballer. And obviously Sarina - you know, you have to find a spot for Rachel Daly, she’s an unbelievable human being with a lot of quality both on and off the pitch,” Ward told the media ahead of Villa’s WSL game against Manchester City.

“But make no bones about it - she comes in as a forward for us.

“She scored goals for the last seven years at Houston and anyone that watched us last season knows that our problems were in front of goal.

“So hopefully she’ll help with that, along with a couple of others we’ve bought in in those areas.

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“Listen, Rachel Daly is not a defender - not anywhere near Aston Villa. She’s an out-and-out forward for us.”

Daly became the sixth addition to Ward’s squad in August, just over a week after the Harrogate-born player became a European champion. She follows attackers Simone Magill and Natasha Harding, who have transferred from Villa’s WSL rivals Everton and Reading respectively.

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