SHEFFIELD UNITED Women will travel to Manchester City tonight without “five or six” first-team players – because they cannot leave work early.
The women’s Championship side travel to the Etihad campus to go head-to-head with one of the biggest teams in the country.
Getty Images – Getty4 Sheffield United boss Carla Ward without a host of players for Man City cup clash tonight due to work commitments
However, the Continental Cup tie shows the stark reality of the haves and have-nots of women’s football in England.
City have international stars like Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Nikita Parris who are all full-time professionals.
But it is a different story in the second tier – players are part-time and may have to fit training and fixtures around work commitments.
The journey is about a 90-minute drive across the Peak District from Sheffield to Manchester.
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Getty Images – Getty4 Blades star Jade Pennock and her team-mates are all part-time
Getty – Contributor4 City boast full-time stars such as skipper Steph Houghton
And to make matters worse, City were unable to comply with United's kick-off change request as they had already sold match tickets to fans and booked stadium staff.
United manager Carla Ward was unhappy with the scheduling of the game and to add insult to injury was not impressed when her own club who gave it the green light.
Ward told Telegraph Sport: “I'm waiting on a couple of girls, one is trying to get out of work early, It's teachers and students, mainly.
“I'll be honest, I did have a grievance in the sense that I was furious the FA would even put a 7pm kick-off time on it, but then I've heard that it was agreed with somebody from our club.
“I've been asking for months and weeks ‘Make sure we get this changed.’
PA:Press Association4 FA WSL all-time leading goalscorer Nikita Parris is full-time at City
“And then I found out our general manager only put that (request) in last week.
“That's a whole different kettle of fish, so we definitely can't moan about that bit.
“Any level where the girls aren't full time, it's a struggle getting them all there. But we'll go there and enjoy it no matter who goes out there.
“I don't want it to look like we're going out there and being negative, because far from it with this fixture.
“I said to the young girls last night that it's a great opportunity for them to go and show what they're about.
“You'd hope next season it would be a discussion point, where if it's a part-time club travelling, they should really have a say on what time kick-off is.”
United are sixth in the second tier, 12 points behind leaders Manchester United who are the only full-time outfit in the league.