England can win the Women’s World Cup, but only if they improve their game management, says Faye White.
But as they prepare to take on Cameroon this evening in the last 16, White is hoping to see improvements in a side that have struggled to control entire games.
Speaking at a William Hill World Cup event, when asked if England can win the competition, she said: “Yes. It’ll come down to fine margins I’m sure in some of the games, but we do just need our game management to be better over the 90 minutes.
“I think we’ve shown that we can take chances and make chances, but it is just about being solid defensively when we are challenged more.
“We’ve still got to be questioned a little bit about that, especially when we come up against some of the physical teams like France or the USA, who are in our side of the draw.
“We’ve been getting the job done, basically,” White continued.
Facing a weaker side in the last 16 in Cameroon offers Neville’s outfit a little more time to sort those issues out, rather than having them exploited by the quality of a bigger nation.
But White is not convinced that will be helpful in the long run, saying: “Playing a third-placed team doesn’t give us that chance and challenge, and then the next game it might be more of a shock as we get lured into a false sense of security maybe.
“It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just the mentality issue of needing people to get their foot on the ball and get free-kicks and do whatever to take the pressure off.
“But equally, credit to the fact that when we did go up [and attack, against Japan] we did it with precision.
“In years gone by, we would’ve struggled and not gone up the other end and scored, so we can’t be too critical as now thankfully Ellen White is in firing form.”
Her namesake, who scored against Scotland and twice against Japan, is not the only player White has been impressed with.
She highlighted Jill Scott as England’s stand-out performer from the group stage, due to “her work rate and her ability to break the ball up”.
But the 41-year-old was also full of praise for Rachel Daly and Georgia Stanway, rotated into the team for victory over Japan, and thinks the former’s performance is particularly pleasing due to concerns over Nikita Parris.
“I know everyone raves about Nikita, but sometimes I think her final product [is lacking] or [she is] losing the ball when she shouldn’t,” White said.
“I know she’s still learning but, for me, there’s still a few question marks. She’s not a Lucy Bronze.
“I mean, it was one game for Rachel Daly, but to do that when she’s not been a regular starter, I think was great. The fact that we’ve got her to come on if need be is great.”
That strength in depth should serve England well as they target progression to the latter stages of the tournament.
“[Daly and Stanway] will be full of confidence now and know they can go and deliver,” White added.
“I’m glad Georgia was given her chance. I was hoping she would be because she is something special.
“And Jodie Taylor’s on the bench, and Fran Kirby, you can bring them on. It must be a nice position [Neville] is in.”
England take on Cameroon this evening at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, with kick off 16:30BST.
#England Women are 8/1 with William Hill to win the Women’s World Cup