England will be fighting fit for France, says Mark Sampson

Saturday 30 May 2015
England boss Mark Sampson instructs his team from the sideline

Mark Sampson said England Women’s match against Canada has left his side in a better place ahead of their World Cup opener against France.

The Lionesses were undone by Sophie Schmidt’s first-half strike, but England’s head coach was more pleased that 16 players got some valuable game time in their final warm-up match, with the opening Group F game just 11 days away.

A number of players were making their return to England’s starting line-up following injury – including captain Steph Houghton and her Manchester City club-mate Lucy Bronze.

Canada 1-0 England

Women's International
Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ontario
Friday 29 May 2015

Sampson said: “We are in a good place.

“I’m really pleased that some players got some good minutes that they would have needed. The likes of Lianne Sanderson, Ellen White, Lucy Bronze, Toni Duggan, Karen Carney, Steph Houghton. It was great for those girls to get some good, hard minutes under their belts.

“They will feel it tomorrow but they will be in a better place for it. We will be sharp and firing by the time we face France.

“I want 23 players ready to put their foot to the floor against a very good French team.”

Before the game, Sampson said he wasn’t expecting his team to be firing on all cylinders, having only arrived in Canada on Monday night and still adjusting to the 5-hour time difference.

He added: “We are reasonably pleased with the performance. Being realistic, we arrived in the country late on Monday and we only got one real training session under our belts.

“We weren’t going to be quite ready to play in a game of that intensity so we had to manage the game, and I felt we did that. We restricted Canada to limited opportunities.

“Of course we wanted to get a result. Every coach and player wants to win every game. I thought we deserved something out of the game. I’m not sure we did enough to win it, but I think we deserved to score.

“But it’s about being ready for the tournament and this game was part of that journey.”

Another factor which pleased Sampson was how England coped with the 23,000-strong crowd at Tim Hortons Field.

Marieanne Spacey with Mark Sampson

Marieanne Spacey with Mark Sampson

He wanted his charges to experience a partisan atmosphere to prepare them for what they might face in the World Cup.

Sampson said: “It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great crowd. The girls would have enjoyed it.

“It was a good advert for the women’s game; to see a full stadium in a wonderful arena with two good teams playing.

“We will learn a lot from it and we will be better for that experience. We are not going to face as partisan a crowd as that, unless of course we face Canada."

He added: “There are lots of things the team can be pleased with after this performance and we’ve got 10 days ahead of us to get ourselves ready for the tournament.”

By Glenn Lavery In Hamilton, Ontario