White's all right for Malta
Thursday, 20 May, 2010
Hope Powell looks set to give Ellen White her first start for England.
Malta v England
FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 Qualifier
Thursday 20 May 2010 (KO 14.00 BST)
Centenary Stadium, Ta’Qali, Malta
Leeds Carnegie striker Ellen White is set to make her first England start as Hope Powell’s team look to maintain their 100 per cent World Cup qualifying record with victory over Malta in Ta’Qali on Thursday.
White, 21, has made substitute appearances in the last two group games, scoring on her debut in the 3-0 win against Austria, and is in line for a full 90 minutes after USA-based strikers Eni Aluko and Lianne Sanderson both withdrew from the squad.
National Coach Powell, at the team’s hotel in St Julians, said: “Ellen has done well when she’s come on as substitute and she will probably start this match.
“She’s quick and aggressive, she has a passion to learn and in the long term she can be the sort of centre forward that we’ve been lacking somewhat – a bit of height, a bit of presence, heads, runs, a bit of everything.
“Hopefully she will bring all that to the forefront tomorrow and hopefully she’ll be on the score-sheet.”
Putting a good number of goals on the score-sheet would benefit England, who beat Malta 8-0 when the teams met at Blackpool last October but who nevertheless have an inferior goal difference to group leaders Spain.
Victory at the Centenary Stadium would, however, put Powell’s team level on points with Spain and with a game in hand. And that, having beaten Spain 1-0 last month, would make England clear favourites to win the group.
Powell said: “Scoring a few goals would be great, but we’re in the driving seat in the group so I’ll be happy just to win.
“We are expected to do that, but we have to be mindful that we are now the team to beat and that we’ve done so well until now that it will be devastating if we don’t do the job we’re supposed to do.
“The girls know that, they know what’s at stake. We have to stay focused and not be panicked if we don’t score in the first five minutes. Sometimes that happens to us when we need to win and we don’t score straight away – we tend to force things, overplay a little bit, so if necessary we just have to be patient.”
Adaptability as well as patience will be required of the England team as they step out to play on the Centenary Stadium’s artificial ‘rubber crumb’ pitch, a surface which only a few of Powell’s squad have experience of playing on regularly.
“It’s quite an ask to come and play on rubber crumb when you’re not used to it,” said Powell, “but we’ve trained at the stadium and on a [rubber crumb] training pitch and the girls seem to have adapted.
“I think they’ve had enough time to get used to it and they seem happy – and hopefully we’ll all be feeling that way at the end of the match.”
As well as Aluko and Sanderson, the America-based goalkeeper Karen Bardsley pulled out of Powell’s squad. The only player called in as a replacement, however, was Everton striker Natasha Dowie.
Revised England squad: Brown (Everton), Chamberlain (Chelsea), A. Scott (Boston Breakers), Stoney (Chelsea), White (Arsenal), Unitt (Everton), Johnson (Everton), Susi (Chelsea), Rafferty (Chelsea), Bradley (Leeds Carnegie), Bassett (Leeds Carnegie), J. Scott (Everton), Williams (Everton), Chapman (Chicago Red Stars), Smith (Boston Breakers), Carney (Chicago Red Stars), White (Leeds Carnegie), Clarke (Leeds Carnegie), Yankey (Arsenal), Dowie (Everton).