Sheffield United fans are set a new challenge ahead of huge test

Sheffield United followers have been urged to show their support for the club’s women’s team when Carla Ward’s side face Manchester City in the Continental League Cup on Wednesday (kick-off 7.30pm).

The quarter-final tie, which is being staged at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium, pits Ward’s players against one of the most expensively assembled squads in the country, with England international’s Ellen White, Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Karen Bardsley among those at the visitors’ disposal.

United’s exploits at FA Championship level, where they are well-placed to join City in the Super League next term, have attracted widespread attention on social media channels.

As they prepare for their highest profile match of the season so far, Ward wants that to translate into the type of gate she believes could increase her charge’s chances of causing a major upset.

“We’re getting tons of backing on Twitter, Facebook and stuff like that,” Ward said. “And it’s really appreciated.

“But my question now to everyone doing that is have you been to a game? And if the answer’s ‘no’, then come down to this one.

“It’s going to be tough. We know that, because of the calibre of the opposition. But just like Chris’ boys, we’re a family, we play good football and we’re also prepared to fight for each other out there.”

Ward is not the first person to draw comparisons between United’s men, who face Arsenal in the Premier League this weekend, and their female counterparts with Katie Wilkinson, one of the Championship’s most feared centre-forwards, also highlighting the similarities betore today’s top-of-the-table clash with Aston Villa.

Carla Ward, manager of Sheffield United Women

“We’re a family,” she said, “I go and watch the lads whenever I can, which is pretty much every single home game, and they’re an inspiration to all of us because they’re exactly the same.

“When you see what they’re doing, how well they’re going and what they’ve achieved, it only drives you on. Because we’re all proud to be representing this club and under the same banner.”

Wilder has described on numerous occasions how the relationship between his team and the terraces helped fuel its rise from the first to the third tier of English football in the space of only three-and-a-half years.

“It’s true,” Ward said. “When you feel you’re not only out there with your team mates, but that everyone in the stands has really got your back as well, it’s a really powerful thing and helps to drive you on.”

Carla Ward.

United signed Blackburn Rovers’ Rhema Lord-Mears and Mollie Green of Manchester United over the weekend.