Belfast Telegraph

Scott urges England to stay calm in Scottish tie


Eyes on the prize: England’s Jill Scott is appearing in her fourth World Cup
Eyes on the prize: England’s Jill Scott is appearing in her fourth World Cup

By Phil Medlicott

Jill Scott has stressed England must not be distracted by the occasion and "stay logical" when they face Scotland in their Women's World Cup opener on Sunday.

The teams meet in a much-anticipated Group D clash in Nice two days after the tournament gets underway.

Lionesses midfielder Scott said: "The fans probably see it as a little weekend break away - for us, it is one of the biggest games of our lives.

"I think what's important is we don't get lost in the emotion of the occasion and we just stay logical, because at the end of the day we are just stepping on to a pitch and playing a football match.

"We need to do our best to try to kind of drown out all that noise that's coming from the outside.

"I'm sure the fans will have a fantastic time and hopefully we can put on a performance which makes them excited for the rest of the World Cup."

Scott was part of the England team that thrashed Scotland - who were without key players Kim Little and Jennifer Beattie due to injury - 6-0 in their opening match at Euro 2017. Scotland were making their first appearance at a major tournament.

"To be honest, I haven't even thought about that game, which probably shows how much I think this game is going to be completely different," Scott said.

"I think at that time Scotland had fantastic players but they probably didn't have the experiences that they have got now.

"I know there will be a lot more experience going into this one and I definitely predict it will be a much tighter affair than the one before.

"It's not a straightforward game. A lot of their players we are playing at clubs with, a lot of them we are playing in the same leagues with, they have Champions League experience now, and it is going to be a difficult game. We have to go out there in the right mindset."

Scott was speaking as Phil Neville's England had their first training session since arriving in France on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old, who is at her fourth World Cup, said: "When I stepped out onto the (training) pitch, I said 'it's really starting to smell like a tournament', and I think a couple of the girls thought I was a bit weird, but it's just excitement around that first game."

She added: "To say that I'm at my fourth World Cup still seems a bit surreal. I know Phil's done a couple of interviews where he's said it won't be my last. I keep saying to him 'let's just try to get through this one first.'

"But I'm enjoying my football, I feel physically fine, and as long as I've still got a smile on my face, I'll keep trying to play for as long as I can."

Forward Toni Duggan was initially involved in the session at Parc des Sports Charles Ehrmann in Nice before withdrawing as a precaution having felt an issue with her thigh.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Lee Alexander admits she was left in awe as a list of Scotland's A-list personalities took time out to wish Scotland all the best at the Women's World Cup.

The nation's number one now hopes Shelley Kerr's side can leave England stunned as they kick-off their first-ever appearance at the finals on Sunday.

The Scots smashed their record home attendance last week when 18,555 turned out to see them beat Jamaica at Hampden Park.

Among the crowd were First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Judy Murray - mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie - and new Scotland men's boss Steve Clarke, who all paid the team a visit in their dressing room after the match to congratulate them.

The Glasgow City stopper said: "We want to do everything we can to make Scotland proud so to have the men's coach come in and offer us his support was great. He told us we shouldn't have conceded goals against Jamaica! It's nice that he was honest with us.

"We had Steve, Judy Murray and Nicola Sturgeon in, so it was really good to know that these people want to speak to us and give us words of wisdom.

"You almost forget what they say as you're so in awe of that these people are actually interested in us and want us to do the best and make Scotland proud.

"But the message was mostly along the lines that we had done well to get here, now go enjoy it and perform."

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