‘England must be ruthless’

Mark Sampson wants his England Women’s team to be “ruthless” as they look to complete their World Cup qualifying campaign with a perfect record.

The Three Lions have already made it to Canada 2015, winning all nine matches to date.

They sealed qualification with a 4-0 win in Wales last month and conclude their group stage campaign against Montenegro on Wednesday.

Montenegro v England

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015
Group 6 qualifier
3pm BST, Wednesday 17 September
Petrovac, Montenegro

They defeated the same opposition 9-0 in Brighton in April – Sampson’s first competitive match in charge – and, despite the big scoreline, he wants his team to improve on that display.

He said: “We want to make sure we end this campaign on a high.

“We want to go to Montenegro, produce a very good performance and hopefully get the result that we want – a win that will give us a 100 per cent record, which would be an incredible achievement for all involved.

“We’ve got to be focused on that and to do that we have got to produce a big performance.

“To qualify in that style would be something [the players] could be very, very proud of. Not many teams managed to do it.”

With qualification already secured, Sampson has taken the opportunity to blood some new players – goalkeepers Rebecca Spencer and Rachael Laws and Bristol Academy defender Jemma Rose.

There is also a recall for Claire Rafferty, following a long-term injury, and Birmingham City’s Jo Potter.

But a large proportion of the 23-player squad have been involved throughout Sampson’s reign, and most longer than that.

Sampson explained: “Every time we get together we want to be picking as close to our best squad as possible. 

“I strongly believe the players we’ve got here are the best available to us at the moment and we want to work with them moving forward.

“We’ve got a very good element of competition, a very good squad dynamic among the group. 

“Every time we come together we are trying to grow that and make sure the energy and the enthusiasm is correct. 

“We have a group who have been together for a long time. They are in a good place and we want to keep that momentum going.”

Sampson has had four weeks to analyse the victory in Cardiff – and although he is happy with the first-half performance he believes there is still room for improvement.

“To win by four goals and keep a clean sheet against a good Wales team we’ve got to be very pleased. Towards the end of the first half we produced a spell of very good football.

“We’re disappointed with some of our play in the second half. We got a little bit sloppy, we lacked that killer edge and we want to make sure that mentality we’re in a good place for every minute of the game.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re relentless, we’re ruthless and we produce those qualities for the duration of the match. The players have embraced that challenge and they have set their standards a bit higher.”

He continued: “We are a very different team from April. We have come a long way in a short space of time. We want to make sure that we produce a performance on Wednesday was better than the 9-0 and better than the Wales game.

“The players have been sharp this week, they have looked fresh and if we show that energy and enthusiasm on Wednesday we are going to get a good result, I’m sure.”

England face two-time world champions Germany at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 23 November (3pm KO). 

Tickets can be purchased via TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 0844 826 2010. ‘Early bird’ tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £1 for children.