Duggan in 'race against time' to prove World Cup fitness

Monday 16 Feb 2015
Toni Duggan has scored 14 goals in 24 internationals

Toni Duggan admits she faces a “race against time” to prove her fitness ahead of the World Cup.

The England forward missed the Three Lions’ defeat by USA on Friday after having knee surgery.

Duggan is expected to be out of action for eight weeks, but hopes to be back sooner.

“Every day from now till then I’ll be trying my best to be at the World Cup”

Toni Duggan on her fitness battle

She told BBC Sport: “These things happen, but hopefully I can get on the mend and get myself back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“It’s a race against time. With these type of injuries, and after an operation, you never really know. You have a [rough timeframe], which is about eight weeks, but sometimes it can be sooner, sometimes it can be later.

“It’s progressing [well] and everything has gone to plan so far. I can’t wait to be back out there. I am missing it so much.”

The Manchester City star is aiming to be back in time for the start of the new FA WSL season, with Nick Cushing’s side opening up against Birmingham City on Sunday 29 March.

Duggan knows she must get back into the City first team before she can entertain thoughts of being in Mark Sampson’s England squad for the World Cup.

But she said being a part of Canada 2015 is her main motivation to get back to full fitness.

Duggan, who was voted Vauxhall England Women's Player of the Year for 2014, added: “It’s a massive year, so I was disappointed to have the setback.

“The World Cup is my main aim. To get picked for that I need to perform for Man City. It’s a race to be fit for the start of the season, then I’ve got to take it from there.

Toni Duggan scores the second of her three goals against Montenegro

Toni Duggan scores the second of her three goals against Montenegro

“I’ve got to put in the performances and make sure my seat on the plane to Canada is guaranteed, because the competition in the squad is tough. I don’t want my spot to go.

“The World Cup is a massive stage and I want to perform on that stage. Every day from now until then I’ll be trying my best to be there.”

England have been drawn in Group F at the World Cup alongside France, Colombia and Mexico. They get their campaign under way against Les Bleues on Tuesday 9 June.

Before then, they have four matches in the annual Cyprus Cup competition next month and one more home friendly in April.

Duggan made her Three Lions debut against Croatia in September 2012 and has gone on to score 14 goals in 24 internationals.

She also helped the U19s win the European Championship in Belarus in 2009.

By Glenn Lavery