Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterJul 23, 2023, 07:00 AM ET
Close• Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018
SYDNEY — Rachel Daly admitted she was disappointed to start England’s World Cup campaign on the bench but will continue pushing her case and is ready to step up if given the chance.
England started their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Haiti on Saturday in Brisbane thanks to Georgia Stanway’s first-half penalty. It was a nervy occasion, with England reliant on Mary Earps making a superb late save to safeguard their three points.
Daly, who was the WSL top scorer at Aston Villa, started on the bench with Arsenal’s Alessia Russo preferred up front. And when asked if she was frustrated to begin among the replacements, Daly said: “I think anyone would be. No one is happy to sit on the bench. If you are, then you are not in the right place, not in the right career.
“It’s a tough place for Sarina [Wiegman] to be, to pick the team. I respect her decisions and I will support Alessia all the way and obviously I know Beth [England] will do the same.”
Daly got her chance off the bench in the 71st minute as she replaced Russo.
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“I think movement is probably one of my strengths,” she added. “I just tried to come on and make a nuisance of myself for the defenders, stepping in off the back of Alessia’s big shift. She did brilliantly again, and I am just ready when I am called upon.”
England’s last goal from open play came back at the start of April when they drew 1-1 with Brazil. Since that win on penalties in the Finalissima, they’ve since lost 2-0 to Australia, drawn 0-0 with Portugal and also 0-0 with Canada in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Rachel Daly had to settle for coming on as a substitute against Haiti. Photo by Naomi Baker – The FA/The FA via Getty Images
They were much fancied against Haiti, and had 22 shots to Haiti’s seven, but were restricted to Stanway’s penalty. Daly rejected any thoughts the team was rusty, but admitted they are still gelling given there are several high profile absentees in injured Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby.
With England facing Denmark next up on July 28 in Sydney, Daly will continue grafting in training with the hope of forcing her way into the starting team.
“I think everybody is digging out for a position,” Daly said. “It’s a headache Sarina has to have in multiple positions. I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes obviously making such big decisions coming into tournaments. But she’s a fantastic manager, we respect all of her decisions. It proved that it works, so we are happy.”