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Preview: Blues v Everton

Despite the quick turnaround, Carla Ward is banking on her 'exceptional' players registering more FA Cup glory this evening.

Just a couple of days on from Blues dramatic Quarter-Final triumph at Brighton & Hove Albion on penalties, Everton stand in the way of them and Wembley.

The Vitality FA Cup Semi-Final takes place at Solihull Moors (7.15pm) and can be seen live on BBC4.

After two wins from two in the WSL, and the upset against Chelsea in the Quarter-Final, Everton go into the tie as favourites.

But don't count out Blues, Head Coach Ward says.

"Listen, it's going to be tough. Everton are a great side. They have recruited very, very well and have got a lot of depth. Willie Kirk has done a great job with them.

"Whilst we respect them and we will do everything we can to stop them, it's an FA Cup tie. Anything can happen in these types of games.

"If what we do on the night isn't good enough one thing I will say - and I will keep reiterating - is that we will not go down without a fight and we will leave everything out there.

"At Brighton they were exceptional. I actually joked that some of the players walked onto the coach afterwards looking like they were 95 as they had given so much!".

Ward has made her displeasure known at the demands placed on her players in particular after the gruelling events on the south coast.

She described as 'ridiculous' the Semi-Finals being played so soon after the last eight ties.

"I cannot get my head around how anybody thinks it would be the right decision to play a Quarter-Final of the FA Cup - probably the most prestigious competition in football - and then play three days later in a Semi-Final. It's an injustice to the competition."

Blues will have to readjust to make up for the absence of Georgia Brougham, who is on loan from Everton and ineligible.

Brougham drove home the winning penalty in the shoot-out at Brighton to give Blues a 4-2 success, following a 2-2 draw after extra-time.

Blues midfielder Christie Murray says that the Blues are 'growing every game' and would go into the Semi-Final on a high.

"The way we stuck together and got through gives us confidence," comments the Captain.

"One of the strengths for us is how together we are as a team and we will definitely keep that going forward all season.

"We know Everton are a very good side but we are just focusing on ourselves, doing what we have to do.

"It's a Cup game, a one off game. There's no pressure on us. We want to go and enjoy the occasion but know that when we come off the park we couldn't have given any more."

Should Blues get to the Final held on 1 November - for the first time since 2017 - it would represent a remarkable achievement, considering the quick rebuild that Ward has had to do.

"It's been a challenge and it still is," admits the Head Coach. "We still need more bodies, we still need added quality.

"But the group we have got, we are happy to get us through to January with.

"If we get to the Final it would be an unbelievable achievement.

"These girls have had a tough ride, particularly over the summer. I'll make no bones about it.

"So for them it would be a dream come true, they would deserve it. They have stuck by the Club and done everything they can, they are really shining now."

Don't miss tonight's action

Follow all the action as Blues host Everton in the Semi-Final of the Vitality FA Cup, 7.15 kick-off.

Live coverage starts at 7pm on BBC Four. BBC Four can be found on channel 9 (Freeview), channel 107 (Freesat), channel 116 (Sky) and channel 117 (Virgin Media).

For those not based in the UK you will be able to watch the match live online, through The FA Player.

Highlights from the match will be available on the BBC website for UK supporters and on the FA Player for the rest of the world from midday Thursday 1 October.

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