The views on those team changes for England’s FIFA Women’s World Cup clash with Denmark, that fantastic goal, that worrying injury and holding onto that precious lead.
On the impact of Keira Walsh injury on the team?
“You saw what we did, Stanway dropped back and Laura came in. Yes, of course we had to find our feet a little bit… you saw different stages. We really dominated the first half. Then Keira went out and we had to adapt to the situation. In the second half, they [Denmark], also had such a direct style of play. We also showed we can fight. The team showed real resilience. We kept it to 1-0 so it was really good and I’m really proud of the team.”
On whether players were upset following the knee injury
“No, we were not upset. We just had to find our feet. Of course, it’s not nice when a player goes off the pitch that way. But we also know unfortunately, these things happen sometimes in football and you just have to move on and you’re the World Cup and you want to win the game. We really had to adapt to a new situation as quickly as possible and that’s what we did.”
Both victories hard-fought?
“Yes, 1-0. It’s all about winning games of course and we also want to play well. I think we had two totally different games. Haiti was totally different than tonight. We never take anything for granted, so everyone thinks ‘Oh, England, you’re just going to win’. Well, we have to work really hard every time we play any game. So that’s what we did today. We had a lot of ball possession, especially in the first half, we dominated the game, and at the end we’re really happy with the 1-0 and that’s what counts.”
LARS SONDERGAARD (Denmark manager)
England got confidence through this beautiful goal. Then we grew into the game and the last part of the first half we won some duels. If we had been good enough or precise enough we could have punished them before half-time due to some counter-attacks we had. We put pressure on them in the last part of the second half and through that could have deserved an equaliser.
What did you change after Keira Walsh went off?
“We changed our pressing a little bit immediately afterwards and changed to a 4-3-3 where we didn’t have the focus on the defensive midfielder. Then we decided at half-time we could play with two strikers that could have different roles and go on pressing on Georgia Stanway. We were fortunate that England also got a bit insecure in their passing from behind. In the beginning really they made us run a lot and we had to always close down spaces.
On Lauren James
“If you have to close one down, there is another player. They always have players and If you give too much notice on one player others will come up. She has those individual skills that can be difficult to analyse. It was also a reason to try the last part with three midfielders so we were a bit more compact. She has individual skills and I think we did really well in the last half an hour where we had her in a place where we wanted. We were also aware in a split second she could do something.
Did you play better this time?
“I definitely think we played a little bit better today, of course it’s always how your opponent plays as well. But I think we were more dangerous because we played more direct than in the first game. We knew England would be a high pressing team so we decided to see if we could put the balls out to our offensive players a little earlier than we did against China for example.
Speaking to the BBC after the win over Denmark
“Yeah definitely [it was a great feeling to score]. It was a dream and something I’ve been thinking about but most importantly I’m happy to help us win.
“I kind of had a thought and then as soon as it hit the net it was just relief.”
What did your team-mates say to you? “They were just really happy for me and they said it before the game they had a good feeling about me. I am happy to have good people around me.”
You still seem so calm… “I am calm all around the pitch. I am happy to bring that on the pitch.”
On how it feels to be a WWC player
God, it’s amazing. I think, after last summer it was quite difficult for me so for me to be given that opportunity tonight to try and showcase something else for the team, I’m really proud of that.
On how pleasing it is to get the win
Ultimately, it was all about the win and the points, it didn’t matter how we went about it. I think people are focussing on goals but ultimately we got the goal that we needed and kept a clean sheet and we’re progressing in this tournament and that’s all that matters.
On looking on from the bench and seeing how well they started and Lauren’s goal
They started fantastically quick. Denmark were very aggressive and it was a bit of a shock to see how aggressive they were. But you know, Lauren James is magic. She produces magic moments like that and that’s exactly why she’s in this team.
On her near chance
Yeah, that was my first touch of the ball and I thought it was going in but it went just wide. Look, opportunities will come and I know I’ll be there. So, unfortunately that one didn’t go in but maybe another one will.
On what went through her mind when the Denmark header hit the post
I’d say it was a bit squeaky bum time but at the end of the day, they didn’t score, we kept a clean sheet and we got the points.
On Coombes stepping up in Walsh’s place
Coombes is an experienced player, maybe people underestimate her at this level but I thought she did fantastic coming in for Keira. I thought she held the ball up well, linked well, settled straight into the game and it didn’t look like we were missing anything.
On line-up changes
I trust in the manager. She’s renowned for winning and we just have to continue to trust in whatever team she selects. We know we trust each other as individuals and as players and as a team and hopefully we can keep progressing in this tournament.
Speaking to the BBC about Lauren James’ winning goal:
“I’m going to claim a little bit of credit because I said you’ve got to cut in! We know she’s incredible. She brings a different presence to the team and a load of ability. I’m buzzing for her. She is so special and you can see what she can do in tight spaces.”
Is it tough to see a team-mate get stretchered off like Keira did? “It’s not nice to see anyone go off injured but Keira is Keira and she is an integral part of the team. I am really really hoping with everything that it isn’t anything too serious. She is a special player an special person. Let’s hope it isn’t as bad as it looked and it was only a precaution.”
On no plan B without Keira?
“It’s about the 23 players we have here and utilising every single one of us on and off the pitch. As we go through the tournament, it was always going to be really important we had the 23 players. It’s important we are all ready to play. (Of course) it would be an opporutnity for someone else but I don’t know how bad she is…
On James starting today?
“She’s unbelievable, it was a great finish today. We see that every day in training, we can’t get the ball off her feet. When she strikes it like that there is not a keeper in the world who is saving it.
On why she had Nico Sorensen’s shirt
She’s in the ACL crew. We were together throughout our journey and shared a few messages throughout that journey and I think when you see someone back on the pitch, it gives me goosebumps!
What is daunting about coming in?
You want to be on the pitch, you don’t want to come on in those circumstances but happy to be on and try and do my best for the team.
On Denmark having more of the ball second half
Just trying to keep it organised and it was different personnel so we were trying to learn with each other throughout the game, so it was a big learning curve.
Another win and that’s what we’re really focusing on. At half time we just said get the win and we’ll do everything we can to do that.
On Lauren James
It was a superb goal, she’s more than capable of doing that every day. She’s a special talent and hopefully she’s going to have a great tournament .
On James filling in for Fran Kirby
She can do something special, she can be that player for us, we’ve got a load of attacking talent but her close ball control is different to anyone else.