Former England No.1 Rachel Brown-Finnis has backed current keeper Karen Bardsley to take the Women’s World Cup by storm and help guide England past the quarter-finals for the first time.
Brown-Finnis retired from football in January because of a persistent knee injury but the 34-year-old racked up 82 international caps and featured in two World Cups during her illustrious career.
The ex-Everton stopper played every game of the 2007 tournament in China before the Three Lionesses were hunted down by USA in the quarter-finals.
It was a familiar tale four years later as England were dumped out at the last-eight stage by France – this time on penalties in Leverkusen.
By that point Bardsley – born in California but whose family reside in Stockport – had already ousted Brown-Finnis as England’s first-choice keeper, and the Manchester City No.1 has gone from strength to strength since.
And Brown-Finnis believes the time is right for the 30-year-old to announce herself on the biggest stage of all as England begin their latest Women’s World Cup quest against familiar foes France today (Tuesday).
“I think there are a number of key players for England this summer, right from Karen Bardsley in goal,” said Brown-Finnis.
“She could be one of the world’s best keepers, if she has a consistent World Cup she can be an absolute star and lead from the back.
“I would love England to make it beyond the quarter-finals – that was our stumbling block in 2007 and 2011, the World Cups I played in. It’s going to be a tough call, we start with France which will be difficult – they are ranked third in the world.
“But it’s a World Cup, we’ve seen loads of upsets in men’s and women’s football, and I’d love England to get beyond the quarter-finals, and that’s what they will aim for.
“You always need a little bit of luck going into those quarter-finals, we’ve been knocked out on penalties in the past – so I’m sure they’ll have been practising their penalties ahead of this tournament.”
Energy providers SSE are the new title sponsors of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, investing in the provision and profile of girls and Women’s football as part of ground-breaking four-year deal.