Carly Telford hopes adversity can galvanise England at the World Cup

Former England goalkeeper Carly Telford believes the injuries that have struck the Lionesses can inspire Sarina Wiegman’s side at this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

England will head to Australia and New Zealand as one of the favourites, but their hopes have been hit by serious injuries that have ruled out captain Leah Williamson and Fran Kirby, while Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, and Millie Bright also face a race against a time to be fit in time.

The loss of key players could derail many of Wiegman’s plans for the tournament but Telford believes it will bring together those who do make the trip.

England v Australia – Alzheimer’s Society International – Gtech Community Stadium
England manager Sarina Wiegman has lost a number of key players to injury (John Walton/PA)

“As much as they might be team-mates or enemies in the Super League, a lot of them are friends, and watching your friends get hurt, you know how short a football career is and how few tournaments you might get to go to,” Telford told the PA news agency.

“It is hurtful when you see team-mates go down but it can inspire them as they will want to play for the girls who are missing it, and they will use it as motivation.”

Telford believes the European champions, whose best World Cup finish was the third place achieved in 2015, will have a target on their back this summer after the successes enjoyed in the last few years.

“I think we will see an ultra-competitive side,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of knock backs with injuries but they’ve had that taste of winning now and once you’ve had that it’s very hard to lose sight of what you want to do which is to win a trophy on a global stage.

Leah Williamson is injured
Leah Williamson is injured (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“The World Cup is a different animal, you’re playing against different nations, sides from South America and Africa you don’t often come up against, and you’re travelling to the other side of the world. It will be a difficult challenge but one Sarina will prepare them for…

“When is there not pressure on England to do well and win a tournament? Even when we haven’t been one of the top sides. But of course once we’ve won something the girls have a target on their heads.

“It’s been the Americans for a long time but England have some brilliant players and arguably the best manager in the world. It’s a huge opportunity to put England on the map again.”

The last World Cup ended in disappointment as England were beaten in the semi-finals by the United States, a match in which Telford played.

“Hurt,” she said when asked her memories of the tournament. “We got so far and fell at the final hurdle, but on reflection it was huge. We got so much support, we had a good tournament and took it as far as we could. We made strides on the pitch and I like to think it led to what came after.”

The World Cup trophy was on hand as Telford spoke at a grassroots football session staged by Bloomsbury Football and the Football Association on Saturday morning at the Ark Elvin Academy within sight of Wembley Stadium.

The session was part of a project led by Bloomsbury to offer more opportunities to play for children from underprivileged kids from across London.

“Having the World Cup trophy here means we’re about to get kids excited about something they can dream about, but also just have some fun,” Telford said.

“There needs to be so many more opportunities and pitches like this where kids can come all year round. There’s been funding from England, the FA and FIFA to make sure every kids has the opportunity to dream big because that’s what you want to do as a kid.”