Women's Senior
Women's Senior

Toni Duggan returns home for England’s first World Cup qualifier

Monday 18 Sep 2017
Toni Duggan limbers up at Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park

Toni Duggan has only been in Barcelona for a few weeks – but she’s already back in Birkenhead to help England get their World Cup qualifying campaign under way.

The 26-year-old signed for the Spanish giants from Manchester City during the summer, and hit the ground running by scoring on her debut.

But the Liverpool native has returned to her home patch as the Lionesses entertain Russia at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park on Tuesday night.

England v Russia
  • FIFA Women's World Cup
  • Group One qualifier
  • 7pm BST, Tuesday 19 September
  • Prenton Park, Tranmere Rovers
  • Tickets priced £10 adults, £1 children
Duggan said: “My family, friends and my boyfriend are always there to support me.

“They came out to the Euros but they can save the mileage on this one.

To spend the night with them after the game will be really nice.

“I’m looking forward to seeing them in the crowd and my niece is going to be mascot as well, so that will be really nice.

“After the disappointment of the Euros, we’re itching to get back out there and prove to people how good we are.”

Ranked 25th in the world, Russia, on paper at least, should prove to be England’s toughest opponent in Group One – although neighbours Wales might beg to differ. The group is completed by Bosnia and Kazakhstan.

Russia were fellow Euro finalists but they failed to make it out of their group.

Duggan scored the last time the two nations met, in a 1-1 draw at Sweden 2013.

She continued: “We saw Russia at the Euros, we’ve played them in the past and they’ve always proved difficult.

“They follow the same traits as their men’s team; they’re physical [and] they’ve got some good individuals who can be the difference on the day.

“It’s going to be difficult. No World Cup qualifier is going to be easy. They will put up a great fight but we have quality in our team and we want to prove people wrong.

“Our preparation has gone well, the atmosphere in camp is really good and we can’t wait to get back on the pitch.

“We want to push on now. We want to get to the World Cup and we want to be the favourites to win tournaments.”

Toni Duggan celebrates after scoring against Portugal at Euro 2017
Duggan is the first England international to play for Barcelona since Gary Lineker.

The Catalan club has invested heavily into its women’s team recently and Duggan can already see the progress they are making.

She added: “I’m really enjoying it. I knew it was going to be a big change in the first few weeks.

“It was difficult to adapt to the weather. I love the sunshine, but try running around in it for two hours a day.

“But I am starting to adapt and I’m really loving it.

“The girls are really nice. It’s a massive honour to play for such a big club. I’m loving the training and the style of play. We’re two games into the season and we’ve won both, so it’s so far, so good.

“It’s a new experience and one I can’t wait to continue.

“Barcelona is a massive club. The news hit the headlines but that doesn’t mean a lot to me. It just shows that women’s football is moving in the right direction.”

Tickets for the Russia match are priced £10 for adults and £1 for children, and can be bought via TheFA.com/Tickets, by calling 03330 144452 (option 1) or in person at Prenton Park.

By Glenn Lavery in Liverpool