Redknapp excited by potential of women's football ahead of FA Cup final

West Ham Women manager Matt Beard says his side will prepare as normal

They face a Manchester City team full of players bound for this summer's World Cup finals, who brushed aside Birmingham City in the 2017 final, and who have not lost to another English team in 31 matches dating back nearly a year.

"As a fan that's when I saw the change", Walsh said, referring to Sheikh Mansour's 2008 takeover.

The Hammers are in their first final of the competition, in their maiden season as a professional club, while City are bidding to win the cup for a second time, following their success in 2017.

When West Ham Women were completely rebuilt over last summer in preparation for their first season in the Women's Super League, the club owner, David Sullivan, quipped that winning the FA Cup was not out of the question - an ambitious completion date of sorts.

"Getting here with West Ham has to be the pinnacle". The thing for me is that we've got to play the game and not the occasion.

"The next three years are so exciting for women's football in this country".

"We've done so much and gone through so much that most people don't even know about".

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But Percival, who has fought back from injury to be available for selection, sees no reason why West Ham can't continue to upset the odds, particularly after beating fellow top-flight team Reading in the semi-finals.

Two-and-a-half hours before Saturday's 5.30pm kick-off, West Ham's men's team host Southampton in the Premier League and the Hammers had wanted that game brought forward to a 12.30pm start to give fans the chance to travel to the final. Then it came to January time and we said "listen, we could actually have a good cup run here".

City had already lifted the Continental League Cup this term, and while they have fallen short in the Women's Super League title race, with Arsenal being crowned champions, Nick Cushing's side can complete the season unbeaten domestically when they face the Gunners away next week. We got told in May a year ago that we would make it in to the top division, and pre-season was the start of July.

"We're disappointed in the outcome of the league but we're proud of our form this year", Cushing said.

Ex-England defenders Gilly Flaherty and Claire Rafferty played in Chelsea's 2015 Wembley triumph while Jane Ross (Scotland), Cho So-hyan (South Korea) and Adrianna Leon (Canada) are among several other experienced internationals.

"West Ham have grown throughout the season and while they maybe didn't start the season as they wanted to, they've had some good results and getting to the final is awesome for them".

"I'm feeling confident. I think we've played well this season".

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