England midfielder Williams tips "strongest" squad to achieve big things

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

ENGLAND’S most-capped player Fara Williams believes Mark Sampson’s current crop is the strongest squad she has been part of in 13 years on the international scene.

Williams earned her 130th cap in Sunday’s 4-0 friendly win over Sweden and surpassed Arsenal’s Rachel Yankey as the most-capped England player in history.

The Liverpool midfielder made her senior debut under Hope Powell in 2001 and has been part of squads that have reached two World Cup quarter-finals in 2007 and 2001.

However, after being part of the team that dispatched a strong Swedish side at Victoria Park in ruthless fashion, the 30-year-old admits it is an exciting time to be part of the squad.

“The performance was at a level that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced over the years,” Williams said. “The girls put a shift in and made a very good Sweden team look quite average at times. Credit to Mark [Sampson, head coach] on how he set us up.

The Northern Echo:

“For me, it was fantastic [to get 130th cap]. I think when I go away and look back it’s an honour to represent your country and another cap is an amazing achievement for myself.

“It’s definitely up there with our best performances. We had a great result against the USA a few years ago when we beat them 2-0, but I think this topped it.

“We matched them physically, reduced them to only a couple of chances and scored four goals against one of the best defences so credit to the team.

“For me being part of the squad for such a long time, I think it’s one of the most exciting groups I’ve been amongst. That’s credit to Mark, who is trying to balance experience with talented young players.

“It’s down to us now. We’ve said over the years that we can really push on, but I think this is definitely a squad of players that can achieve something.”

Sampson’s starting XI on Sunday contained two debutants in Fran Kirby and Jodie Taylor with the former producing a player-of-the-mach display that included a stunning goal.

The England boss had the likes of Jill Scott, Toni Duggan and Eni Aluko to come off the bench and Williams admits it is the first time in a while the squad has had such strong competition for places.

She said: “Mark brought the young girls in. Fran and Jodie did exceptionally well and that’s two debutants that have played a big part in the result.

“There is real competition for places and that’s something we haven’t had in this squad for quite a few years.”

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