By George Overhill

26th Feb, 2022 | 6:10am

West Ham Women expert looks ahead to FA Cup trip to Reading

We’re delighted to welcome Michelle Irons as our exclusive West Ham Women’s expert. Each week she’ll be giving her views on the biggest talking points at Victoria Road…

Michelle Irons has previewed the weekend’s FA Cup clash with Reading while questioning a poor scheduling decision from the FA.

The Hammers return from the international break looking to get back on track after the surprise 3-0 defeat to Leicester last time out in the WSL.

A 4-1 win over Sheffield United in the previous round at Bramall Lane set up this second away-draw in a row on Sunday.

The side will be weary of the attacking threat that the home side poses but may be short on support in the stands due to a clash with the Irons’ men playing against Wolves.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham Zone Michelle Irons said: “Going into this fixture I’m really pleased to see the girls playing again after that shock loss to Leicester.

“We travel to the Madjeski Stadium but the men are at home to Wolves at the exact same kick off time.

“This is quite a disappointment as myself and a number of season ticket holders have questioned the scheduling clash and I do think the FA can do so much more to promote the women’s game. 

“It is always a great clash between these teams, whether it’s in the WSL or the cup competitions.

“Our most recent victory springs to mind, where the 5-0 thrashing of them in the WSL last season secured our safety in the league and gave the team a huge boost.

“In this season’s home league fixture we let slip a 2-0 lead and Reading showed great determination to get something from that game, but they do work hard for each other and grind out results. 

“I’d like to see Tameka Yallop come back in to the starting XI here as it would give us a new attacking threat to have Yui Hasegawa linking up with her.

“I’m very wary of the attacking threat of Deanne Rose and Natasha Dowie for Reading, who have both bagged a few goals between them this season.

“We have to be really switched on to nullify them but hopefully we will welcome back Abbie-Leigh Stringer as she gives us such stability in our midfield. 

“I’d love to see us progress as we have made so much progress once again this season. I predict a 2-1 victory for West Ham.”

Champions Chelsea are next up after Reading for a big London derby so a confidence-boosting result in the cup would be ideal preparation for that challenge.

In other West Ham news, Carlton Cole has shared his reaction to the men’s Europa League draw.

Be sure to follow West Ham Zone on Facebook for 24/7 updates on the Hammers plus more exclusive interviews with Frank McAvennie.