Sampson delight at England's powers of recovery

Tuesday 07 Apr 2015
England Women's head coach Mark Sampson

With two months to go until England Women begin their World Cup campaign, Mark Sampson expressed delight at his side’s evolving character.

After sailing through qualifying with ten wins from ten, the Lionesses suffered successive defeats, by Germany and USA, the world’s top two teams.

But they recovered immediately and won the annual Cyprus Cup tournament for a third time.

England v China

A Women's International
7.30pm, Thursday 9 April
Academy Stadium, Manchester City FC
Tickets priced £5 adults, £2.50 children

And as they prepare to take on China in their final match before they fly to Canada, the head coach said he was pleased with how his charges have responded.

He said: "We come into the China game looking to continue to build momentum after a fabulous Cyprus Cup campaign.

"We suffered back-to back defeats for the first time as a group so we needed real strength of character to bounce back and produce four high-quality performances.

"We won comfortably against Finland and Australia and then picked up a hard-earned draw against a strong Netherlands team, and those results allowed us the opportunity of a playing in a final against the World Cup hosts.

"This team again showed how far they have come with a performance full of composure, character and hard work to win the cup."

Sampson continued: "I truly feel that winning the Cyprus Cup will be a huge moment in this team’s development.

"We knew before Cyprus that we would have to show we could play under pressure, and we did that in abundance in every match. It is a real momentum changer for us and now we can focus on raising the bar even higher as we look to the summer."

Thursday’s match against China means Sampson and co. will have taken on 10 of the top 16 nations in the world, of which England are one, in the last 15 months.

The 32-year-old is now relishing the challenge his side will face – and has urged his team to give him something to think about before he selects his final 23-player World Cup squad.

England open their Canada 2015 crusade against France on Tuesday 9 June in Moncton.

Sampson added: "We begin our World Cup campaign in two months’ time, so this match against China is another important step in our preparation. It will be a really tough test against a strong, well organised team.

"This match also gives the players one last opportunity to stake a claim for a place on the plane to Canada. We need to build on the Cyprus Cup victory and continue to build momentum with a win and a big performance."

By Glenn Lavery in Manchester