As Mark Sampson gets set to name his final 23 squad for the World Cup in Canada, I thought I would share my own 23 players I would take to the World Cup and explain why in term of balance and versatility.
There is no doubt that this squad will be different from Mark Sampson’s one.
There are loads of things that happen in training that we do not see, as well as what happens inside the group, that explains why certain players are not selected, particularly for those who do not make it for non-football related reasons.
Carly Telford is the clear number one in England for me, she should have more caps considering the quality of the two main number one chosen ahead of her in the last eight years. Technically very strong, explosive and her kicking is better than any of her competitors.
Siobhan Chamberlain should also have had more caps considering her level compared to Brown and Bardsley who regularly made mistakes in goal for club and country but never got dropped for reasons that I have never understood. Her lack of game time in the last two seasons means she can be the perfect number two goalkeeper, reliable if called upon during the tournament.
Rebecca Spencer should be my number three goalkeeper because she has accumulated a lot of experience with winning squads at Arsenal as a back up to Emma Byrne and was fundamental in Birmingham City Ladies getting to the Champions League semi-final last season. Also you need a player with a strong personality that will help the main keeper despite knowing that she will not get a game through the whole tournament.
Right backs (2)
Lucy Bronze is the best right back for me if she not injured, she can do everything you ask from a full back. She can tackle, defend well, she roams up and down the line with pace and can cross the ball. There are not many better right backs around the world.
Alex Scott would be a good back-up for Bronze. The experienced defender can do the same as Bronze but is not as strong technically on the ball and does not use it as well as Lucy. She has excellent pace as well.
Left backs (2)
Claire Rafferty is back from three ACL injuries and again is the typical modern full back, who can do everything in defence but also on the counter attack which is a big part of the full back job those days. She is very strong technically which is a must in this position and has the ability to pass and cross and find quick passing on the left wing.
Stephanie Houghton is the current captain and was excellent in the London Olympics and would be a good back-up to Rafferty, she can also play in various positions on the pitch if needed.
Centre backs (3)
Gemma Bonner has been very consistent for double League champions Liverpool a tall centre back, she brings stability at the heart of the defence.
Laura Bassett would complement Bonner well, she has been around the England squads for years but has rarely been given a consistent run. A classical centre back with a lot of experience and a strong personality and leadership.
Gilly Flaherty has played consistently well at centre back for five or six seasons and is still uncapped. Again another case of why, when some of the call-ups through those years where not always logical. She can seamlessly slot at right or left centre back without problems.
Defensive midfields (2)
Katie Chapman is one of the best at breaking down oppositions attack with her strength and power, she reads the game well and leads by example. She was unlucky to miss on many caps due to childcare problems with the previous England manager.
Anita Asante is another experienced player who reads the game well and excel in that defensive role. Keeping the team’s balance sitting in front of the back four is a special job and she does it well. She can also cover at centre-back if needed.
Central midfields (3)
Jordan Nobbs, the current vice-captain, is a leader on the pitch always demanding the ball, organising the team and a dynamo that never stops running
Jill Scott is an experienced and intelligent box to box player who can also play higher on the pitch if needed. Also a threat on set pieces as she is one of the tallest players around.
Leah Williamson, winner of Young PFA Player of the Year, has shown exceptional mental strength in the recent u19 Elite Round in Northern Ireland, she can play anywhere across the back four and in midfield. The perfect player to have on the bench learning from the experienced players and to come on as a sub however she is currently injured.
Eniola Aluko is the current in-form player for England, can create breaches in any defence with her pace
Karen Carney, the veteran, is an accomplished player who can play either at number 10 or on both wings, she is strong technical and can use both feet unlike many English players.
Gemma Davison is another player who does not have the number of caps she deserves due to the previous England manager selecting her favourites in her position. There are not better English winger who can beat defenders one on one with her trickery and pace. She would be useful sub to come on and change a game either to win it or save it.
Fran Kirby has jumped on the international scene and adapted without problems despite playing in FA WSL 2. She is so quick and can finish well.
Toni Duggan has developed well through all the age groups and made a breakthrough at the 2013 Euros
Jodie Taylor is another player who had been put aside by the previous management, she is strong has pace and can score goals. Since she has come back into the fold, she has been a valuable asset for the team
Ellen White is experienced and following her ACL injury, she has come back in superb form. Like every striker, she needs confidence and at the moment she is just flying scoring for fun. She can also play on the wing if needed.
Natasha Dowie England do not really have another centre forward who can play with her back to the goal, hold it well with her strength and bring players in. Her tactical profile is different from the other forwards and is needed for certain times and certain moments in a game, either to close it off or to come back from behind.