Their FA Cup journey starts on Sunday with a trip to Championship leaders Aston Villa, and while the 28-year-old is aware of the potential for a surprise, she believes a good result can help Albion in their battle to climb the table in the Women’s Super League.
Whelan was in the Notts County team beaten by Chelsea in the first FA Women’s Cup Final to be played at Wembley in 2015.
“Having played at Wembley, it is always an aspiration to get back there,” she said. “That game was a first for women’s football. As a little girl I never dreamed of playing in a cup final at Wembley, so that was a magical experience, and since then we have seen how the competition has grown.
“We had a run to the quarter-finals of the Continental Cup this season, and it was a good distraction for us to have from the pressures of the league.”
Villa are three points clear in the race to win promotion to the FAWSL, and this week made the high-profile appointment of former England star Eni Aluko as their first sporting director.
Whelan said, “Aston Villa are on a good run. There are Super League players in their squad, so we know we will have to give our finest performance to get the win.
“They have nothing to lose and everything to prove. They’ve got momentum, so it’s going to be a very hard game, and it’s on their home turf. We don’t want to get knocked out now, so it’s as important as a league game in terms of building confidence.”
Manager Hope Powell has confirmed that she may give minutes to those in the squad who have not had a great deal of game time in recent weeks. Whelan is desperate to be involved but can see Powell’s way of thinking.
“The FA Cup is a good opportunity to utilise players who haven’t had many minutes and see players express themselves, but you always want to be involved.
“The pressure in the league is quite high at the moment, so the cup gives us a break to get our performance levels back rather than the pressure of results.”