England Women's forward Toni Duggan wants to cement her place in the seniors
England v Italy
3.30pm GMT, Wednesday 6 March 2013
by Glenn Lavery
After making her senior team debut against Croatia last September, Toni Duggan believes the hard work starts now.
The 21-year-old made her England bow as a 79th-minute substitute in the 3-0 win which secured Hope Powell’s side a place at the Euro 2013 Finals.
Duggan, who also featured against France in October, has been included in the Three Lions squad for this month’s Cyprus Cup campaign which gets underway on Wednesday.
And the forward has expressed a desire to cement her place in the seniors over the coming months.
She said: “Making my debut was amazing, probably the highlight of my year.
“I’d been waiting for that chance for a long time so hopefully now I can push on. This is where the hard work begins.
“It’s difficult to get into the squad these days so my main focus this year is to keep playing well enough to be selected for every England game. I can’t stop working hard just because I’ve made my debut.”
Duggan’s career has been on an upward curve for a number of years. She racked up an impressive 16 goals in 28 appearances for the U19s, including the opener in the European Championship Final in 2009.
She soon established herself in the Everton first team and was in the starting eleven for The FA Women’s Cup Final win over Arsenal in 2010.
Further international recognition followed as Duggan appeared in all three matches at the U20 World Cup in Germany. Seven Under-23 caps (and three goals) then came her way before she broke into the senior squad.
Despite the bright start to her career, an underhit back pass to Karen Bardsley against the French last year allowed Marie Delie to score and that mistake has caused Duggan to re-focus.
She explained: “I couldn’t wait to get out there. It was a big game and it was my chance to shine so I was disappointed with the back pass.
“But these things happen in football and I’d rather they happen in a friendly than in a major tournament.
“My career has gone well so far, I can’t really complain. But sometimes you need setbacks to push yourself on. You can’t be content with what you’ve done in the past so I will put that back pass behind me and learn from it.”
Duggan has the chance to make immediate amends in Cyprus and she wants to make the most of her first experience of this tournament.
England open up against Italy on Wednesday before facing Scotland on Friday and New Zealand next Monday. One final game will be played against an unconfirmed opponent next Wednesday.
Duggan added: “I can’t wait for it to start. It’s a competitive tournament with some good teams so it will be a good test for us.
“I enjoy meeting up with the squad and training with the best players every day.
“Hopefully I can keep doing well for Everton and keep getting picked for England and then who knows what will happen?
"I’ve just got to keep working hard in training and doing my best when I get a chance.”
Squad in full
Karen Bardsley, Rachel Brown, Siobhan Chamberlain
Laura Bassett, Sophie Bradley, Steph Houghton, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Dunia Susi, Rachel Unitt
Anita Asante, Karen Carney, Jess Clarke, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Fara Williams, Rachel Yankey,
Eniola Aluko, Toni Duggan, Kelly Smith, Ellen White, Rachel Williams.