The Blues go into the encounter missing a number of key players, including forward Martina Piemonte. The striker has been charged with violent conduct after an off-the-ball incident during the game and the ban will come into effect immediately. The Italian will also be unavailable for the trip to West Ham United, as well as Everton’s home match against Liverpool in the League Cup.
Piemonte’s international teammate, Aurora Galli, is a doubt for Sunday after picking up a knock in training and will be assessed, while Elise Stevenik and Lucy Hope miss out.
But Ward knows there is still plenty for her side to be concerned about when they host the Toffees and feels that Brian Sorensen has implemented a style that is never easy to play against.
“They’ve got a way of playing. They’re better than their league position suggests,” she said. They’ve played some good stuff and I thought they were excellent against Chelsea.
“What I would say is that I think it’d be very naïve to think this is going to be an easy game because of their run.
“We know what football’s like and we know what momentum swings are like. Since Brian’s come in he’s implemented a way, and they’re never an easy team to play against. They’ve got a lot of quality so we’re going to have to be at our absolute best.
“It’s really important that we take this as a big challenge because that’s exactly what it’s going to be.”
The Villains have discovered a bit of form recently and go into the match one place and one point above their visitors.
Consecutive WSL wins over West Ham and Bristol City sees Ward’s currently one place and one point ahead of Everton, making them the form team in this one.
England forward Rachel Daly remains the one to watch. The versatile forward has three league goals to her name this season, including an injury-time winner that gave her side all three points against the Hammers.
Ex-Blue Simone Magill is available for Sunday after making a scoring return in the League Cup in midweek, while Lucy Parker has returned to training but will not be available.
It’s a WSL fixture that favours the away side with the visitors winning five of the last meetings in this one.
The only exception was Everton’s 3-1 home win April 2021.
A win for the Blues would not only see them leapfrog Villa in the table, it would also be a fourth straight WSL win at the home of their rivals.
The Toffees haven’t conceded a goal in their last trio of encounters away at Villa, with Lucy Hope the hero last time out with a second half goal to settle matters in Everton’s favour.