Lionesses' Beth England gives verdict on chances of World Cup start

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Bethany England made her World Cup finals debut against Denmark
Bethany England made her World Cup finals debut against Denmark

Beth England could be England's secret weapon as they aim to fire up their World Cup campaign.

The in-form Spurs striker earned a last minute recall just to be in Australia, but with the European Champions struggling for goals she could be who Sarina Wiegman looks to as her primary gamechanger. The Lionesses face China in Adelaide having only scored twice from open play since the Arnold Clark Cup campaign back in February.

Alessia Russo is expected to retain her starting place up front in the final Group D match, where England need just a point to top the table. But Russo is coming under increasing pressure from forward England, who very nearly made a dramatic introduction to the World Cup stage against Denmark.

After replacing Russo in the 76th minute the former Chelsea striker flicked a header narrowly wide of the post, the closest the Lionesses came to doubling their lead against the Danes. England looked lively throughout her cameo, with sharp movement across the box giving the Danish defenders a constant headache.

"It is amazing to be a World Cup player," she said. "After last summer it was quite difficult for me. So to be given the chance to showcase something else for the team, I'm really grateful for that.

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"I was just on cloud nine. I had a chance with my first touch of the ball that went just wide. But if opportunities come I know I'll be there, that one didn't go in but maybe the next one will."

England was part of the Euros squad, but didn't get a single minute on the pitch last summer, with Ellen White still holding the No.9 shirt at the time. But with White now retired and WSL golden boot winner Rachel Daly returning to her left-back role against Denmark, England has a real chance of breaking into the team.

This only months after her international hopes seemed dashed, with her omission from April's list of players making it four squads in-a-row she had missed out on. Now she could be the hidden ace in Wiegman's pack.

Lionesses' Beth England gives verdict on chances of World Cup startBethany England is mobbed by teammates after her World Cup debut (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

If she can put in another impressive performance from the bench against China, the England manager will have some serious thinking to do over who is best equipped to lead the line. So does England herself now believe she is close to a starting role ahead of the Lionesses' group decider?

"Honestly, that is a really tough question," said England. "I think we have a phenomenal range of options in terms of forwards with real talent.

"I've got tough competition both with Less (Russo) and Rach (Daly) but all I can do is make sure that I'm ready when I'm called upon because I know I can do the job."

If the Lionesses are again struggling for goals against the Asian Cup champions, Wiegman could well turn to England sooner than expected.

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Jack Lacey-Hatton

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