Nobbs heading home

“It’s a special thing to have an England team in the area and this is definitely a game that will get the fans excited.

“When I was younger I would play in Hartlepool all through the summer holidays because of my dad’s links with the club so I basically grew up with football in Hartlepool. 

“It’s great to be heading home.”

Nobbs continued: “I’m sure my dad is already proud of me but I know he’ll be really proud to see me walk out at Victoria Park in an England shirt. I’m delighted to be back in the squad and to play on the same pitch as my dad played on will be really special. He’s been the biggest influence on my career.”

The 21-year-old is back to full fitness following a back injury, having missed the last five internationals. Nobbs started Arsenal’s past three FA WSL matches and she expressed her relief at being back involved again for both club and country.

She said: “Three months is a long time to be out and it was great to get those first 90 minutes under my belt against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago.

Injury has kept Jordan Nobbs out of the last five internationals

“I’m feeling a lot more confident, my sharpness is up and fitness is up – it’s great to be back.

“It was really frustrating but I suppose I’ve been quite lucky not to have had a serious injury before – that was my first long period away from football.

“I’ve missed not being with England and now I’m just aiming to cement my place in the squad again. We’re playing well, getting good results and I’m dying to be a part of it.”

Nobbs came off the bench in our 4-1 defeat by Sweden before last year’s Euro so she has seen first-hand how talented Pia Sundhage’s side are. The host nation went on to reach the semi-finals of that tournament and they have won all seven World Cup qualifiers to date.

And as we stand just one point away from a place at next summer’s showpiece event, Nobbs believes today’s game is the ideal way to prepare for our final two Group 6 matches, against Wales and Montenegro.

She explained: “If we want to keep on improving as a team we need to play against the best teams and Sweden are definitely one of them.

“To be right on my doorstep, where my dad played for years, is fantastic.”

Jordan Nobbs 

“We are still gelling together under Mark so it’s a great time to play them. It will be the sort of test we need if and when we get to Canada next year.

“Sweden are flying in their World Cup group just as we are so it should be a great game.

“We are so close to qualification, we can’t slip up now. We’ve got one game to book our place at the World Cup. We can’t be complacent. Just because we’ve won every qualifier so far doesn’t mean a thing. We still need one more point. We need to get the job done, hopefully before the last game.”

As well as providing a platform for the pivotal game in Cardiff later this month, Nobbs hopes this afternoon’s encounter also helps to inspire the next generation of North East stars who could follow in the footsteps of Nobbs, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Lucy Bronze and Demi Stokes.

“A lot of us grew up together and hard work and dedication were drummed into us,” Nobbs said. “We were lucky that we were in the same age group so we came through the ranks together and became really good friends.

“Hopefully this game will encourage even more girls from the North East to get involved. We have proved that people from up here do get noticed if you’re good enough.

And it’s a great area to learn the game, just look at our track record.

“The amount of northern players that have reached the top level shows how much is going on around this part of the country.

“And this game can only encourage more young girls to try and be a part of that.”