Williams aims big in Canada

Everton have no shortage of England left-backs – Leighton Baines and Alex Greenwood already excel for club and country – and Paige Williams wants to add her name to the list.

Williams, who cites Baines as a hero, has been named in Mo Marley’s England squad for the FIFA Women’s U20 World Cup in August, but her hopes of representing her country in Canada were almost snatched from her after she snapped her anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Everton last year.

A long road to recovery lay ahead but the 19-year-old is made of stern stuff, and after months of hard work she got her just reward with her call-up. Upon hearing the news of her selection, she spoke exclusively to TheFA.com.

Williams said: “It was hard because I have never been through an injury before, so to go from not being injured to getting probably one of the worst you can has been hard.

“But I have had good support, I have had good rehab and because of the time frame it was always a goal – the World Cup.

“When you have got something like that to work for it makes it a little bit easier.”

Williams in action for Everton

As the saying goes ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ – and Williams says she feels better than ever as she prepares to unleash her lethal left foot on the world stage – following on from her hero.

She added: “I feel stronger than before I did it to be honest. I am just building up my 90 minutes. It is a relief to be back, and I hope if I get the chance my foot will be in full flow and can help us out.

“Leighton Baines is a great attacking full-back and someone I try to play like.

“He’s brilliant in one v one situations both in defence and attack – and he delivers on set plays which I like to do.”

Williams is now fully focused on the World Cup after her injury troubles and she believes the squad could not be more prepared for the big stage.

World Cup schedule

v South Korea, Wednesday 6 August
v Mexico, Saturday 9 August
v Nigeria, Wednesday 13 August

She said: “I played at the U19 Euros in Wales when we qualified for Canada and we got to the final without conceding a goal. That was amazing.

“Defensively we did really well but we have also got different options in attack.

“We have got so much pace up front, I think that is why we were so successful because we can play short but we have the pace to get in behind as well.

“Behind the scenes Mo and Gemma [Grainger, Marley’s assistant] do so much work on the opposition. They go out and watch them and they give us all the information we need.”

She added: “I literally can’t wait. We have done so much preparation and we know about the teams.

“I have been in the system now since I was 13 and now I’m going to a World Cup – it is a dream!”

England’s U20 World Cup squad

Goalkeepers
Lizzie Durack (Everton), Caitlin Leach (Aston Villa), Megan Walsh (Everton)

Defenders
Gabrielle George (Everton), Martha Harris (Liverpool), Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City), Meaghan Sargeant (Birmingham City), Ellie Stewart (Liverpool), Paige Williams (Everton)

Midfielders
Jade Bailey (Arsenal), Sherry McCue (Aston Villa), Jess Sigsworth (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Abbey-Leigh Stringer (Aston Villa), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Katie Zelem (Liverpool)

Forwards
Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Jess Carter (Birmingham City), Natasha Flint (Manchester City), Mel Lawley (Birmingham City), Beth Mead (Sunderland), Nikita Parris (Everton).