Former Aston Villa boss Marcus Bignot hails Midlands teams for securing WSL survival and Eni Aluko

MARCUS BIGNOT has praised Aston Villa and Birmingham City for assuring that the Midlands will be represented in the WSL next season.

Both teams from the region were embroiled in a fight for survival but came out unscathed from the battle that raged until the season finale.

Leicester City make it a trio of Midland's clubs in the top division after their promotion and Villa's departing interim boss couldn't be more delighted.

The 46-year-old said: "For me, for Midlands football, I'm delighted.

"There'll be representation now with Aston Villa, Birmingham and now Leicester."

After slugging it out at the bottom end of the table, Bignot reckons now's the time for the region's sides to start challenging for the title and develop the sport in the area.

The ex-Blues boss added: "I think it's a real opportunity now for Midlands football to really sit at the top table now in the WSL.

"And not only sit at the top table but really develop girls and women's football in the area."

Bignot believes role models such as Villa director Eniola Aluko are critical to the development of the sport in the area.

The Birmingham-born gaffer continued: "Let's have some more role models, we've got our sporting director Eniola Aluko who's had a fabulous career.

"Who's gonna be the next one to make a name, who's gonna be the next one to get into the senior team?

"Which crop is going to be at the forefront of Midlands football and compete at the top level in the WSL?

"That's the challenge for Birmingham, Villa and Leicester now."

But domestic superiority isn't enough for Bignot who feels the players from the Midlands need to infiltrate the England squad also.

He claimed the the region used to be the core of the Lionesses squad and he wants to see those days return.

Bignot said: "I've looked at the England senior team and there's not much representation now from Birmingham and the Mildlands.

"Whereas year's gone by, Birmingham were the flagship at the Midlands in terms of developing England youth international and senior players."

Unfortunately, Bignot won't have a hands-on role in the area's football development due to his imminent exit from Villa's dugout.

Although he'll no longer be in the WSL, Bignot will be kept busy with his academy , which was suspended during the Covid pandemic and his coaching role with England Under-19 men's team.

But before he gets stuck back in to his numerous roles, he plans to spend some quality time with his family.

Bignot said: "I'm going to visit my nan, because I haven't seen her for awhile. I miss my son who's with my nan.

"I've got my academy, we've got an exciting partnership with the famous City University.

"I've got England Under-19's and preparation for the qualifiers."

Despite his departure and future endeavours, Bignot remains committed to helping Midlands football in any way that he can.

He said: "For me, in women's football in the Midlands, I wanna see progress and in any way I can help, I'll help.

"I want to support the football club, the staff and players in any way that I can, so we shall see."

He became the club's interim manager in January until the end of the season to help them stay in the league.

When he arrived, Villa were in second from bottom with one win in ten games.

But after an amazing run, which saw Villa go unbeaten in their last 5 games and earned Bignot with a Manager of the Month Award in April, they managed to turn things around.

They went into the last game of the season against Arsenal needing a point to secure their league position, which they earned with a sublime performance.

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