Villa Ladies FA Cup preview: Merritt - I am ready for enforcer role
Tash Merritt says she's ready for to take her place as the enforcer in the middle ground as Villa Ladies take on Liverpool Ladies in the huge FA Cup clash on Sunday.
Merritt, 22, was an attacking midfielder originally but has been converted to a sitter who does the lion's share of defensive work from the centre.
She's relishing the job as the Super League outfit arrive at Boldmere St Michael's for the last sixteen clash, which kicks off at 2pm.
She said: "I try to do whatever I can for the team. I like to attack but I am playing more as a sitter now.
"I do whatever it takes to break up the play. I do all the donkey work to make sure the team functions.
"You need different types of players - those who run with the ball, those who pass you to death, those who score but you also need those who track, battle and tackle. That's how I see my role. And I'm enjoying it."
Merritt, who has been with the claret and blue for twelve years, is relishing the encounter with the Reds.
She insists the players must "play to their optimum" to make it through to the next phase of the cup competition.
But she also believes it's vital that the team don't give Liverpool Ladies too much respect.
She continued: "I am very excited. It's a massive game for us, the biggest of the season.
"We need to put the last two games behind us - the losses to Coventry and Watford - and perform like we were in the previous matches. We need everyone to step up their game.
"It will be a big test for us to see if we can step up to that plate and compete with teams of this kind of standard and calibre.
"We have to step up our game. But one thing I always stress in the changing room before we go out is: 'We must play our own game.'
"We can't go out thinking about who this person is, what this person does, what damage they can do. It takes away from your own performance.
"It's vital we do the things we know we do well otherwise we will never win. It's about positivity in yourselves.
"You have to be aware of their dangers and switched on to them but at the same time you can't be too cautious and react to what they can do. You have to play your own game and be creative."
Like forward Natalie Gibson before her, Merritt is hoping for a bumper crowd on Sunday.
She added: "It would be great. This season, the level of support has been brilliant. We have had more support than ever.
"Usually it's friends, family, that kind of thing but this term we've had other Villa fans coming to cheer us on. It's fantastic. Let's hope for a big crowd on Sunday."
Get along to Boldmere St Michael's Ground [Sat Nav: B73 5RY] to support Villa Ladies. Admission is £2.
Draw In Full
Aston Villa v Liverpool