Bardsley: 'Fuel the fire'
Tuesday, 22 November, 2011
Goalkeeper wants to make amends for draw with Serbia in September.
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England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley wants to use the pain of Serbia’s 94th-minute equaliser in September as motivation to earn three precious Euro qualifying points on Wednesday night.
Hope Powell’s side were deservedly leading 2-0 at half-time the last time these two sides met, in Belgrade. They had chances to extend their lead shortly after the restart, but a Danka Podovac free-kick and an added time strike from Vesna Smiljkovic earned the Serbs a draw.
And now Bardsley, who didn’t start in Belgrade, wants her team-mates to use that pain to help avenge the loss of two Group 6 points.
"We were disappointed with the end result,” she admitted. “We had loads of opportunities to put the game away and we weren't very clinical in the final third.
"We went in 2-0 up at half-time but Serbia came out in the second half and they were up for it. And that proves that we are a big team now, that teams come out and want to beat us, and that for them it's a really, really big deal. We saw that with the way Serbia celebrated at the end of the game.
"At the time, I could see that we had some really good moments in the game, but then watching it back I realised there were even more than I originally thought,” she continued. “And that's what makes it even more frustrating, the fact there was some really good football out there and we only came away with a draw. It was a heartbreaker. But I think that’s going to fuel the fire for this game, not just for me but for the whole squad. It has to.”
Santa Monica-born Bardsley made her England debut against Northern Ireland back in 2005 and has been a regular squad member ever since. The 27-year-old plays her club football with New Jersey Sky Blue in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) League in America, though she is currently on loan at Linköpings in Sweden, and plays alongside, predominantly, WSL players for England, so she is very well placed to analyse the progress the Three Lions have made in recent years, certainly by using full-time professional players as her point of reference.
"We have improved in every department since I’ve been in the squad, particularly our fitness levels, the quality of our play and our mental approach to matches,” said Bardsley. “We can cope with any team in the world now both in terms of our football, our fitness and the speed of our play. It’s hard to gauge at the time because you’re so involved and you don’t really see it, but over five, ten years you can really notice the difference.
“The players we’ve got in the WPS get the opportunity to train every day and have access to some top quality coaching and the WSL players are now able to train a lot more as well and we’ve already seen an increase in quality in the matches. I think that’s only going to continue to get better and that will help England improve at the same time.”
You can read more from Karen in the official England v Serbia matchday programme
Squad in full (click on each player's name for a full profile)
Karen Bardsley (Linköpings, on loan from Sky Blue), Rachel Brown (Everton), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy)
Sophie Bradley (Nottingham Forest, on loan from Lincoln), Alex Scott (Boston Breakers), Casey Stoney (Lincoln), Dunia Susi (Birmingham City), Rachel Unitt (Everton), Fern Whelan (Everton)
Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Dani Buet* (Chelsea), Jess Clarke (Lincoln), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Jade Moore (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Everton), Fara Williams (Everton), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal)
Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Natasha Dowie (Everton), Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers), Ellen White (Arsenal), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City)
* replaced Eniola Aluko from Sky Blue, who withdrew from the squad due to her legal studies