Commentating after the 2-1 win against China on Thursday night, the England manager Mark Sampson left the door opened for a newcomer to gatecrash the party and jump on the plane to Canada.
“There’s also a lot of WSL football to be played between now and the tournament, so players can play their way in – or potentially play their way out. The players need to feel that pressure, to understand how important performance levels are between now and the tournament and make sure they’re in the best possible position to get selected.
“We’ve made it clear to them that they really have to push themselves. If you look at the history of England squads or World Cups in general, there’s always potentially someone there – look at Harry Kane – who’s come from nowhere to really stake a claim. If that’s the case it will be a huge bonus to us, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen.”
I believe there is an obvious candidate named Leah Williamson.
The way the 18-year-old Arsenal Ladies midfielder clinically dispatched the penalty that sent England u19 to the finals in Israel next summer was just the proof that she is ready for the pressure cooking environment of a senior world cup.
She had to display exceptional mental strength knowing a miss would eliminate England from the tournament.
The fact that she had to wait five days to take that penalty and that the game would be over after the kick added drama and extra pressure.
This was due to a technical error by the German referee in the first group game. She awarded an indirect free kick to Norway after the penalty scored by Williamson was ruled out because her teammate Rosella Ayane entered the penalty area too early.
Leah has captained England at u15 and u17 level, she is the current u19 captain as well.
She has also been called up at u20 and u23 level last year, while having her breakthrough season at Arsenal Ladies at the tender age of 17. She has shown maturity beyond her years and her versatility would be a precious asset in a month long tournament. Last year, between club and country games, she has played in all ten outfield positions available on the pitch.
She has excellent pace which explains why she has been used as a full back for the England youth teams, she reads the game well making her suitable to play either at center back or in her usual central midfield position.
She can play as a box-to-box player and has the rare ability to be able to make well-timed runs deep from midfield as seen in her League goal against Chelsea last year. If you combine this with her excellent first touch and technical skills, you certainly have a player that does not look out of place alongside seasoned senior players like Jordan Nobbs or Jill Scott who play in a similar position for England.
It will be interesting to see if Leah will be included in the original 35 players squad list sent to FIFA and in the final 23 players list.
She is certainly good enough to be on the plane to Canada and contribute as a squad member.