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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Simon Collings

Rachel Daly bidding for England starting job at World Cup after Haiti frustration

Rachel Daly is determined to leapfrog Alessia Russo as England’s starting striker after admitting it was frustrating to be on the bench for the Lionesses’ World Cup opener.

England ran out 1-0 winners over Haiti, who are ranked 53rd in the world, with Georgia Stanway’s first-half penalty the only goal of the game.

Ahead of the match, one big call for head coach Sarina Wiegman to make was who to start up front given the competition for places in her squad.

Russo has been England’s preferred striker since Ellen White retired last summer, but Daly was the top scorer in the Women’s Super League (WSL) last season.

Eyes on the prize: Rachel Daly wants to claim the England striker’s role for her own (The FA via Getty Images)

Russo got the nod against Haiti on Saturday in Brisbane and asked if she was a bit frustrated to be on the bench for England’s opening game, Daly said: “I think anyone would be.

“No one is happy to sit on the bench. If you are, then you are not in the right place, not in the right career.

“It’s a tough place for Sarina to be, to pick the team. I respect her decisions and I will support Alessia all the way and obviously I know Beth [England] will do the same.

“I think that’s the beauty of having a competitive squad. I think everybody is digging out for a position.

“It’s a headache Sarina has to have in multiple positions. I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes obviously making such big decisions coming into tournaments.

“But she’s a fantastic manager, we respect all of her decisions. It proved against Haiti that it works, so we are happy.

“I think movement is probably one of my strengths. I just tried to come on and make a nuisance of myself for the defenders, stepping in off the back of Alessia’s big shift.

“She did brilliantly again, and I am just ready when I am called upon.”

England’s struggles in attack are nothing new and they have not scored from open play since April, but Daly is not worried.

“I mean you could put it down to a number of things, but I think we are quite a new side, a relatively new side,” she said.

“We have lost a lot of players through injury, retiring. We are still building, but I don’t think it’s a worry and a concern at the minute. Hopefully, more will come.”

England’s opening win has put them in a strong position in Group D, with both Wiegman’s team and Denmark on three points.

Alessia Russo has been England’s starting forward since Ellen White retired (Getty Images)

The pair will meet in Sydney on Friday and the Lionesses could book a spot in the last-16 with another victory.

Despite a mixed showing against Haiti, alarm bells are not ringing too much for the team, as it has been pointed out how England began Euro 2022 last summer with a tame 1-0 win over Austria - before going on to win the whole thing.

“The girls were just saying that actually,” said Daly. “It’s a bit of Deja vu.

“But, look, 1-0, three points on the board, we will take that. That’s all that matters coming out of games in the group and for the foreseeable. So, three points on the board, we will take it.

“Obviously we are coming off the back of some time off after the season, but no I wouldn’t say that [we are rusty].

“I think Haiti were a fantastic side and they are a force to be reckoned with. I think they will do some damage. I think you have got to give credit to the opposition as well, they were brilliant.”

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