A WORLD CUP brings with it a huge amount of excitement and heading into today’s tournament in Canada, England women’s national team are looking in good shape.
I am particularly pleased to see the inclusion of some relatively newer faces in their 23-player squad.
One such name that immediately stands out is Fran Kirby.
Having played against her in the FA Women’s Super League during my time at Millwall Lionesses, I can vouch for the fact that the Reading Women’s forward is untouchable on her day.
Her pace is an asset – she is so quick – and given the right service, Fran could be one to watch for the Three Lionesses.
The good thing about the England women’s set-up now is that they are bringing new players into the mix.
It has been the same familiar faces for a long time, but looking at young talent seems to be something they are now openly embracing.
In the past England have stuck with the older, more experienced, tried and tested players who have been there and done it.
But I feel the time is right for the senior side to be looking down their set-up and introducing new faces into the mix, which can only bode well for both the present and the future.
At 21 years of age, Fran will be the second youngest in the squad (defender Alex Greenwood, also 21, is the youngest) but with eight players in their 30s it’s important that there are younger, capable players who can be called upon to play their part in a tournament format.
In terms of England women’s prospects, hopefully they will fare better than the men did in Brazil last year and make it out of the group stage!
Just looking at Group F – also comprising France, Mexico and Colombia – I feel they will navigate that hurdle without too many undue problems.
The bookmakers have them as realistic quarter-finalists but I can see no reason why they couldn’t be pushing for a place in and among the powerhouses of the women’s game with a semi-final spot.
After that, who knows?
They have a tricky game to start with, though, against France on Tuesday (2pm).
The French are a very good team but it would not be beyond England to get off to a fantastic start and beat them in their first game.
Should they do that, then that would set them up to progress from the group as winners.
The confidence an opening victory would give the side would be priceless going into the next couple of games, which arrive against weaker opponents in Mexico (Saturday, June 13) and Colombia (Wednesday, June 17) respectively.
Even if England started with a draw that would be okay in the grand scheme of things – basically, the message from me is to avoid defeat!
In terms of the players who I think will be critical to England’s chances in the tournament, then it’s the attacking threat carried by the likes of Fran, Karen Carney, and Toni Duggan who will have a major say in how far the Three Lionesses progress.
I also think midfield maestro Jordan Nobbs is a class act, so she will be another player that the team look for to provide inspiration on the big stage.