Belfast Telegraph

Natasha out in the cold but vows to come back stronger

By Robert Jones

The niece of a former Northern Ireland star has set her sights on playing in the next World Cup for England, after missing out on selection for this summer's tournament.

The top women's international teams on the planet are in Canada ahead of the 2016 World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow.

Natasha Dowie, whose uncle Iain scored 12 goals in 59 appearances for Northern Ireland during the 1990s, has been left at home by England manager Mark Sampson, despite netting five times during qualification.

The 26-year-old's reaction to being left at home isn't to have a pop at the boss, instead she's determined to make sure that next time round it will be impossible for her to be dropped.

"Of course I felt I'd done enough to go and that's no disrespect to the girls that are out there," said Dowie, who plays her club football for Liverpool, where she won the Women's Super League title in 2013 and 2014.

"Mark's the manager, it's his decision, I can't change that. It's out of my control and I wish the girls the best of luck.

"I'm not bitter about it because deep down I felt that I've given everything I possibly could.

"It's hard to take when you hear that players probably won't be fit for the first couple of games, but it's only going to cause me misery and upset if I think about it too much.

"So I look at it as a challenge to prove him wrong and get involved again. I've never made a major tournament with the seniors, I never got involved under Hope Powell.

"I've got the Euros and I've got another World Cup that I could be involved in."

In contrast striker Jodie Taylor has hit out at former Lionesses boss Powell ahead of the World Cup. Taylor was mystified and upset at being ignored by Powell during her time in charge, and says it was "like drawing blood from a stone" when trying to figure out why her face did not fit.

At her lowest ebb, Taylor was living and playing club football in Sweden when the country staged the Euro 2013 finals, and as she sat forlorn watching from the stands in Gothenburg the Birkenhead-born frontwoman wondered if she would ever get an England chance.

It was England's failure at that tournament, however, which triggered Powell's sacking after 15 years at the helm.

Successor Mark Sampson was swift to beckon Taylor, a consistently prolific scorer who has spent her career "club-hopping", into his squad.

"Sweden were playing at the Euros and I just remember sitting there and thinking: 'I'm good enough to be playing here, I should be playing here'," Taylor said. "My club-mates were on the pitch, killing it for Sweden. It was a moment of frustration, of thinking: 'What do I need to do? What more can I do?'

"If a coach thinks your face doesn't fit and she doesn't want to pick you, it's completely out of your control. When Hope was in charge, it got to the point where I had to stop myself being upset about it.

"It was still in the back of my mind and I still wanted it to happen. But I was focused on what I could control which helped, otherwise you end up with negative emotions and bitterness, which I don't like.

"I emailed her and tried to get feedback from her but it was like drawing blood from a stone."

Fellow England forward Lianne Sanderson was also in England exile during the latter years of Powell's reign, after a falling-out with the manager, while midfielder Katie Chapman felt she was excluded because she sought time to look after her young family.

Like Taylor, both are back in favour under Sampson.

Belfast Telegraph


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