With every door that closes, another one opens and that is yet again the case fo
With every door that closes, another one opens and that is yet again the case for this seemingly jinxed England side...
England v Iceland
FIFA 2003 World Cup Qualifying Play-off Semi-Final 2nd leg
3pm, Sunday 22nd September 2002
St Andrews, Birmingham
The Three Lions have recently suffered the withdrawals of three of their key players Katie Chapman, Angela Banks and Kelly Smith andwith the added setback of the suspension of Karen Walker, after receiving a second yellow card in the qualifying round. However, they know that to get what they want they must not dwell on it and Walkers' disappointment provides an opportunity for Arsenal's Faye White to captain the side, one she is thrilled to have.
"I am going to take the opportunity to do what I can and fill that role as best I can," said White yesterday following the first training session since returning from Iceland.
The news of Walker's suspension was only confirmed yesterday morning and came as a shock to the whole squad, especially to the Belles forward. That left England manager Hope Powell to inform White that she would be taking over the armband at training and although thrilled, White also acknowledged that she had mixed emotions.
"I was disappointed about Kaz [Karen Walker] because obviously on her performance in the last game, you need someone of her experience on the pitch. And how well she played putting in the two goals but some things happen and you've got to get over them and do the best you can as a squad and as a player."
And this England squad has had a lot to get over in the run up to this play-off. But the message from the camp is that 'we just have to get on with it' and that is exactly what they have done.
To be given the captain's armband may have come as a bit of a shock to White yesterday in the circumstances but her manager Powell has been grooming the Arsenal star since the qualification game against Germany. Powell revealed yesterday that just as the girls were walking up the tunnel for that game back in May, she told White that she would be the next England captain. Those words have definitely had the right psychological effect on White who has gone on from strength to strength.
"When your manager tells you that it gives you a lift and it gives you something to work towards. It gave me that extra incentive. When Hope said that to me it has given me a lot of confidence to go on from there."
For White, the role of captain will be a relatively new experience, as she has never captained her club side. Her team-mate Sian Williams has been Arsenal captain for the past ten years but White got her first taste in the recent England friendly against Nigeria when she was passed the armband, ironically also replacing Walker on that occasion. She remembers that experience well.
"It gave me an extra lift in the game but I just got on with it. You just go out there and play like you have been, try to encourage people, try to organise and try to be a bit more influential."
On Sunday White is going to have to lead by example as England face a tough and potentially nervous clash against Iceland. Having scored two away goals, England are in the box seat but just one slip up could prove costly. However, even if things are not going right, White does not see herself in the Roy Keane mould.
"I am not someone who will brawl and shout at everyone, I will try and lead by example and encourage and just try and organise."
It is White's calm assurance and confidence that makes her the natural replacement for Walker, not just for this game, but as Walker reaches the end of her career, for the future. Her presence at the back will prove crucial as Iceland will go all out for the win that would see them progress at the expense of the Three Lions. However, if England are to win then they certainly do not need any more withdrawals and it was White herself who was struggling with an injury in the first leg in Reykjavik. But following the squads first training session, White seemed confident that she would hold out.
"I was worried leading up to the game [on Monday] but I was pleased how it felt during the game and after it has not been too bad. It is just preventing the injury coming back but I didn't feel it in training at all today so I'm quite positive on that."
And White was upbeat about England's chances, especially as they now know what they are up against and, importantly, having a vociferous Midlands crowd to back them all the way.
"I don't think we played the best out there, we can play better, most players individually but as a team as well, because there was a lot of youngsters out there. But having home advantage I think is really going to help us. It is just putting that ball in the net and taking our chances when we make them."
However, it was on Monday that missed chances could have cost England dearly, something that White acknowledges but was also happy that the team was creating the opportunities.
"Having that amount of chances was encouraging so it is just taking our chances, we will have to be a bit more clinical."
If the England strikers are 'clinical' then the Three Lions will be preparing for a World Cup qualification final against France next month. But with Karen Walker out, a new heroine could emerge - and the Captain Marvel headlines will be written.
Tickets are still available, so get down to St Andrew's to support England...
Contact the Birmingham City ticket hotline 0121 772 0101. Entry will be priced at £3 for adults and £1 for children before the day, with prices going up to £5/£1 on matchday. There will also be a special family ticket, priced at £5, for up to two adults and three children.