Defender Sarah Mayling has put pen to paper and committed to another two years with Aston Villa.
The versatile full-back, who can also play on either wing and across midfield, has chosen to remain at her childhood club despite interest from top clubs like Manchester United.
Mayling, still only 25, has only ever played in the West Midlands all her career. She joined Aston Villa when she was eight years old and then at 19, made the move to Birmingham City to become a full-time professional in the Women’s Super League.
After a successful four-and-a-half years with Birmingham, winning Players’ Player of the Season and Supporters Group Player of the Season, she made the move back to Villa in 2021.
This is her third season playing under head coach Carla Ward who once described Mayling as “one of the most underrated players in the WSL.”
Could this be a big move for Mayling in the push for her first ever senior England call-up?Embed from Getty Images
Right back at Villa
Despite her amazing versatility and Ward backing her to do a good job playing anywhere in the starting 11, Mayling has only ever played at right-back for Villa.
This has been a smart move by Mayling. Despite numerous calls for her to play further forward where she has provided many assists, she has made the right-back position her own. Consistency is the key here. With so many standout performances, Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman has got to have Mayling on her radar.
Lucy Bronze has been the regular right-back for England for years, and rightly so. However, Wiegman has always had one eye on the future and is known for handing opportunities to new players.
Her Football Hub recently published an article on the 12 contenders Wiegman could take to the World Cup. Mayling is up against some strong competition but her chances have recently intensified.Embed from Getty Images
Villa the team to watch
Aston Villa now boast four Lionesses in their squad.
Goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and full-back turned striker Rachel Daly have both impressed for some time. In addition, the Villans have recently signed midfield duo Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth. This means Wiegman is more likely to watch more of Villa’s matches first-hand.
This will be a massive boost for the likes of players such as Mayling who are looking to impress.
Over the years, several England managers have been criticised for only selecting players from the top four WSL clubs. Villa are now a prime example of clubs bucking that trend. Tottenham Hotspur are likely to be another example, with Bethany England having recently signed for them.
Ward was quoted as saying: “I’ve worked with Sarah for three seasons now. She is a top professional who gives everything day in and day out.
“She’s growing into one of the league’s most consistent players and we believe she can go on to be anything she wants to be.”
Could 2023 be the year Sarah Mayling breaks into the England senior team?