McNamara | Blackburn challenge 'a whole different ball game'

Dan McNamara understands the task facing his Wolves Women side this Sunday as they aim to reach the fifth round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for the first time in two decades.

The manager has already masterminded two incredible victories over third-tier Nottingham Forest and Watford to set his fourth-tier side up with a cup clash against Women’s Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers.

Although McNamara believes Watford – who his side comfortably beat 4-1 last weekend – are capable at competing in the second-tier, he admits the challenge Blackburn pose will be unlike anything they have faced so far in the competition.

On a stunning performance against Watford last weekend

“I’ve been telling people that this group of girls and this club have been worthy of a place in tier three for the last two years.

“I was impressed by the way they applied themselves and I was impressed by the quality on show, but I wasn’t shocked or surprised – I see it week in, week out. I was just delighted that they keep getting a bigger stage to show people what they are capable of.

“They don’t want this season to end. We’ve had league moments taken away from us yet again, so this is the only thing they have left to really fight for, and you can see that out on the pitch.

“It’s evident they want this season to continue. It’s the first time we’ve got to the fourth round in god knows how many years, so it’s just a fantastic achievement and the girls deserve all the credit.”

Another stunning display! Watford 1-4 Wolves | Highlights

On second cup tie with Blackburn in three years

“[Blackburn manager] Gemma Donnelly has done a fantastic job at Blackburn and she’s someone who I look up to because what she’s done with Blackburn is what I want to do with Wolves, and hopefully we will start to see that progression as we go through the next couple of months.

“But Blackburn are a brilliant team and they’ll be a level above anything we’ve faced so far. But again, there is no expectation on our girls.

“We’ll just be going into the game to try and show what we are capable of. We’ve got young girls who will be hopeful of making careers in football and playing regularly in the Championship.

“This is the stage for them to show themselves off and put themselves not just in Wolves’ mind frame, but also in the window for other Championship clubs if they’re ready at this time.”

On facing a team from the Championship

“We played a team last week who, I believe, are capable of competing in the Championship, and they have players who have played Super League football in Rosie Kmita, international players like Emma Beckett in central midfield.

“But it’s going to be a whole different ball game on Sunday. Blackburn have played the whole season, they’ve not been interrupted at all, so that’s going to have to come into the game plan and how long can we maintain that kind of tempo within the game.

“But it isn’t anything other than just a fantastic occasion again on Sunday; Jeff [Shi] and the directors have said they’ll be there and it’s going to be live on Wolves TV.

“We were told we weren’t going to get past Forest, but here we are, two fantastic occasions later and we’re about to do it again. It’s just a bonus to see these players being given that stage to show what they are capable of and put themselves in the window to progress as a group or as individuals.”

On reaching the fourth round for first time in 15 years

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. Most of it in my three-and-a-half years in the job so far has been off the field. Having built up from where we were sharing half an astroturf at Bilston College to what you see now and where Wolves Women are on the field is absolutely day and night apart.

“Silverware that we did deserve for the past two seasons has been cruelly taken away from us; the country cup final in 2019/20, the league in 2019/20, the league in 2020/21, potentially another county cup this season.

“But you have to give it to the girls. Some of them have had two disappointments in the last two years and they still manage to produce levels of performances like they did against Watford last weekend, and that’s testament to them because they are a credit to this club.

“We’ve just got to enjoy the moments as we keep creating them and over the summer, get ready to go again, but we’ll worry about that once this season’s over.”

You can catch all the action on Wolves TV as Wolves Women take on Blackburn Rovers Ladies from 2.45pm this Sunday.