Brighton attacker Katie Robinson can become an England regular if she continues to "stretch herself" at club level, according to coach Amy Merricks.
Merricks recently worked as Robinson's manager in a near two-month spell as interim boss, before the appointment of former Bayern Munich women's manager Jens Scheuer after Christmas, and will remain a key part of the coaching set-up. Robinson, 20, is expected to be an important player for the new coach, having been arguably the clubs' most consistent performer in the first half of the season.
Her excellent form led a first England call-up in November, with the wide-forward making her senior Lionesses debut as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw with Norway. Sarina Wiegman will monitor Robinson closely in the new year and if the Albion star is included in the squad for February's Arnold Clark Cup, she will have a huge opportunity to audition for a World Cup finals place.
Merricks, who only lost to Manchester City during her time in the Brighton hot seat, believes Robinson's time with England will come - but was also keen to point out she has plenty of years ahead of her to get there.
"Katie has a lot of talent," said Merricks. "She has got a lot to offer and I think everyone who watches us regularly can see that. But she is still at the start of her career and it is easy to forget that. I don't think it is about measuring how long she may have to wait to get into the (Lionesses) squad, I don't think anyone can do that.
"We need to ensure that she is getting the development she needs at club level first and foremost. Her work day-in, day-out will help keep her on this upward trajectory that she seems to be on at the moment.
"I also think there are plenty of areas where she can still stretch herself further. She needs to work on certain areas of her game that will help her become more consistent. But she is doing that every day and in a matter of time, it (becoming an England regular) will happen.
"It will then become about how we can get her to stay there with the international side and ensure at the same time she consistently performs well for us."
Robinson came through the ranks at Bristol City before moving to Brighton, where she sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her first season with the club, halting her progress. But she has become the main danger for clubs across the Women's Super League when they face Albion, memorably scoring and assisting in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool in November.
And Merricks believes the youngster has the right attitude to not only get to the World Cup, but become an England regular over the next few years. She said: "I've had conversations with Katie and she knows if she performs for us, it is only going to have a big impact on a wider picture for herself.
"But I'm all about individual development and I think she has the right mindset, the right application, but she also has a long way to go. She is still at the beginning of her career and that is great because there is no limit on what she can achieve.
"If I was Katie, I would be comparing where I am now to where I could be in five years' time, and that is incredible. She needs to keep her feet on the ground and keep working hard, but I'm sure she will do. She has a real drive and focus that will only help her."
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