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Sampson wants his girls to seize their place in history

By Damian Spellman

Published 30/06/2015

England boss Mark Sampson
England boss Mark Sampson

England boss Mark Sampson has challenged his players to make history as they close in on World Cup glory.

Sampson will send his troops into semi-final battle with reigning champions Japan in Edmonton tomorrow night (midnight BST) with the biggest prize of all tantalisingly close.

He admits they face two intensely difficult tests if they are to get past the 2011 winners and then beat either the United States or Germany in the final, but he is confident the Lionesses can have a major say in the trophy's ultimate destination.

Sampson said: "We are still in there fighting. There are a lot of teams that have gone home.

"There are only four left - three of the best teams in the world and England - so we are in a place where we have only got to win two matches to make history and create a real special moment in England football's history and a special moment for this team.

"That's the mission: two wins, and when you put it like that, it doesn't seem much. But it's two wins against potentially two great opponents.

"But the team have been great up to this point. They will really be ready to go for Wednesday, they will be really fired up, really focused, really concentrated.

"We are feeling a huge wave of support from back home, which is giving the players that extra motivation, that extra sense of pride and passion, and it's making them wake up with an extra spring in their step, so we are going to keep embracing that support.

"We really hope the people can stay with us, stay connected with this team, get behind us again and let's get ourselves through to a final."

England booked their place in the last four with a tense 2-1 victory over hosts Canada, but they did so with first-choice keeper Karen Bardsley back in the dressing room after she suffered an allergic reaction which caused a swelling underneath her right eye.

Substitute Siobhan Chamberlain took over and played the final 38 minutes, but Sampson revealed Bardsley is expected to return to full training today and be available for selection for the semi-final.

He said: "KB is in a much better place today. The swelling has gone down a lot.

"We have sent some tests to go back to the UK to find out exactly what happened, but I think it was just a one-off event.

"She was obviously allergic to something yesterday and the eye has puffed up a little bit, but it's clearly far better now, so we are confident she will be in a great place to train tomorrow and get back with the team."

Belfast Telegraph

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