Mark Sampson confident England can mix it with the best

Saturday 14 Feb 2015
Mark Sampson has lost just three games as England Women's boss

Mark Sampson said his England Women’s side have proved they can compete with the best in the world.

The Three Lions were narrowly beaten by USA at MK Dons on Friday night, but Sampson was pleased with the improvements his charges had made from their 3-0 defeat to Germany in November.

Having faced the top two nations in the FIFA rankings, and with the World Cup in Canada just under four months away, the head coach is convinced his side can give anyone a game.

England 0-1 USA

A Women's International
Friday 13 February
stadiummk, MK Dons FC

He said: “We are getting closer to the team I want us to be.

“We have showed against USA that we can mix it with anyone. However teams want to play against us we can find a solution.

“There are things we know we need to improve on, but let’s not forget the condition of the players at the moment. They are still in pre-season.

“Our objective is to keep getting closer and closer to these top-tier nations, to keep knocking the door down, so come the summer we have got a far better chance of beating them.

“You can see the improvements the players have made from the Germany game and that is huge from my point of view.

“The players are getting fitter and fitter as they approach the start of their domestic season, and I’m really confident that by the time the World Cup starts we will be in a position to give anyone a tough game.”

Alex Morgan’s 25th-minute header gave the Americans a 1-0 win, but England striker Jodie Taylor had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside after Fran Kirby’s strike bounced back off the crossbar.

Some stoic defending and a number of mainly routine saves from Karen Bardsley denied Jill Ellis’s side a second goal.

Mark Sampson and Jodie Taylor assess 1-0 loss to USA

And Sampson admitted his next objective is not just to hold the best in the world, but to beat them .

He said: “We are disappointed not to get a positive result. I certainly felt we deserved at least a draw with the amount of chances we created and the control we had defensively against a very strong opponent.

“We have to remember that two weeks ago a lot of these girls were on the sun loungers, so to produce a performance of that quality I am pleased.

“But we wanted to win. We’ve got to work now to improve and be better so the next time we play one of these big guns we can cross that white line and get the win that we want."

“There are plenty of positives, but we can’t hide away from the fact that we want to be winning these games”

Mark Sampson 

Sampson continued: “I thought off the ball we were superb. The goal we conceded was from a corner where the US have caught us out by keeping a lot of bodies in the box. In terms of open play I never thought we got cut open. I thought we dealt with the aerial threat and the bombardment of long balls superbly well. The chances they created were second-ball knock downs.

“In the main, I was really pleased with our organisation off the ball and our balance of attack and defence.”

Sampson praised the five players he brought into the starting XI – Laura Bassett, Jill Scott, Jo Potter, Taylor and Kirby – and said their performances highlighted the quality available to him.

He added: “I’m pleased that we showed we’ve got good strength in depth in the group and moving forward we know we have got different styles in our play.

“There are plenty of positives, but we can’t hide away from the fact that we want to be winning these games.”

Next up for England is four games in the annual Cyprus Cup competition in March. They have one more home match, in April, before the World Cup. England have been drawn in Group F alongside France, Colombia and Mexico.

By Glenn Lavery