Lionesses star Lucy Staniforth believes victory is vital for England when they face Denmark at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium in their penultimate World Cup warm-up game.
England have risen to third place in FIFA’s world rankings ahead of this summer’s tournament in France while Denmark find themselves back in 17th despite possessing some of the best attackers in the world.
Staniforth and her teammates will face the likes of VfL Wolfsburg’s Ballon D’Or runner-up Pernille Harder in a star-studded Danish cast on May 25th in Walsall in a showpiece game for fans.
And the 26-year-old midfielder, who lifted the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, looks to be a mainstay in Phil Neville’s squad as they look to put the finishing touches to their World Cup preparations.
Speaking while visiting an SSE Wildcats Centre, led by Walsall FC’s community programme, Staniforth said:
“It will be a really good challenge for us and I am expecting Denmark to be a very organised team, hard to beat, and a team that will be looking to upset us but hopefully we can put on a good performance for our fans.
“It is not often that you get to watch some of the best footballers in the world play, and we have a fair few of those as well, so you would like to think that it will be a fantastic game in which the big players put on a performance.
“I think it is vital that we win both of our remaining games and that would help set the winning precedent.
“We have had some good results this year, but now it is about asserting our dominance and this is great opportunity to do that.”
The Birmingham City star has just a handful of international appearances to her name and although she claimed the FA WSL title with Liverpool in 2014, victory at the SheBelieves Cup is the most recent and prominent jewel in her crown.
Now Staniforth believes the relaxed atmosphere and fearless attitude of England’s World Cup squad will be their key to success in France.
“From my very first day in the squad I felt like I had the manger’s confidence and support and that has allowed me to be the best version of myself," said Staniforth.
“He [Neville] encourages us to bring our personalities to the table and that is exactly what a good squad needs.
“There are very experienced players but we also have players coming in with very few caps and they are fearless and excited - that is exactly how I feel about the World Cup and that is how the other girls feel too.
“The group is so nice to be around because off the pitch there are some great characters, some really funny people and everyone is very chilled.
“These types of people are perfect for tournament football because there is a balance between having a laugh and working hard on the pitch.”
England Women host Denmark in a ‘Road to France’ international on Saturday, 25 May at Walsall FC, KO 1pm. Tickets available at £10/£1 from www.thefa.com/lionessestickets