Carly Telford has backed her England team-mates to be even stronger by the time Euro 2017 comes around.
The goalkeeper was a member of the Lionesses squad which finished third at this summer’s World Cup in Canada.
It was England’s best-ever finish at the tournament and it ensured they climbed to an all-time high of fifth in the FIFA rankings.
Estonia v England
UEFA Women's Euro 2017
5pm BST, Monday 21 September
A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn
But Telford, 28, believes Mark Sampson’s charges can improve further during their European Championship qualifying campaign – which begins in Estonia on Monday.
She said: “Looking at the players we’ve got coming through, as well as the existing players, I know that over the next 2-4 years we will be among the best in the world.
“There’s no reason why in 2017 we can’t be European champions.
“We have showed the potential we have got. In Canada, for the first time ever, we truly believed that we could reach those high standards.
“We sat down, looked around the room and realised that we actually are a very, very good team. It’s going to take every single one of us, maybe up to 30-35 players, to give us the best chance of doing well in the Euros – but I really do believe we’ve got it in us.”
Telford was the only England player to not get any game-time at the World Cup, an unfortunate victim of teams having to name three goalkeepers in their squad.
Manchester City keeper Karen Bardsley, long established as No1, started every game, while Siobhan Chamberlain only played 38 minutes of the quarter final win over the host nation after Bardsley suffered an eye injury.
Telford, a naturally positive character, did not let her head drop and offered support to her colleagues throughout.
Telford (right) toasts England's World Cup quarter final win with Claire Rafferty (left) and Toni Duggan
She explained: “Mark created an environment where I didn’t feel isolated at all. I didn’t feel like I didn’t play my part.
“I never felt apart from what was going on, both in Canada and the 18 months building up to the World Cup.
“I didn’t get to step on the pitch but I felt really included in the group, absolutely.
“Because I hadn’t played that much over the qualifying campaign it wasn’t as if I had played every game and then suddenly I wasn’t starting.
“That’s not to say I’m used to it because obviously I would have loved to have got some minutes. I felt like I played well for Notts County in the first half of the season and I was ready to play for England if called upon.
“But I wasn’t needed. KB [Bardsley] had a great World Cup. I didn’t play but I supported KB and Siobhan as much as I could. It was important to make that unit work effectively.
“That’s why we were a successful unit – because we pushed each other and supported each other throughout.”
Telford continued: “It wasn’t a conscious effort from me to force myself to be happy.
“At the end of the day, I was at a World Cup with some of my best friends in a beautiful country, doing what I love. It wasn’t hard for me to enjoy that experience.”
However, the Durham native made it clear that she will not be content to be sat on the bench for the next two years.
She has six caps to her name so far and has designs on increasing that tally by the time the finals come around in two years.
Telford said: “I’m not getting any younger and I’ve been around this squad for a long time now.
“All I can do is keep knocking on the door, training hard, playing well and making sure I’m getting stronger and fitter every day.
“I need to keep asking questions of Mark and Lee [Kendall, England’s goalkeeping coach]. At the end of the day they are the ones that make the decisions. As long as I keep doing what I know I can do, then I have no doubt that I will get my opportunity.
“And when I get my opportunity it’s about how much I want to keep a hold of it. I’ve got a lot of competition but that’s what we’re all here for.”
She added: “I’m really excited for the next two years and how much experience I can gain.
“I’ve no doubt that Mark has plans for the next 2-4 years and I’m fully equipped and ready to be a part of that journey.
“I hope that means a lot more caps for me, but whatever it means, I’ll make sure I’ll do it with a smile on my face.”