SUNDERLAND-BORN Jill Scott can be much more than England’s tireless midfield engine at the World Cup, according to former Three Lionesses goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis.
Standing just shy of 6ft and boasting a background in long-distance running, Manchester City’s Scott has developed into a world-class box-to-box midfielder.
However, while she has grown accustomed to putting in the hard yards while her team-mates hog the headlines, the 28-year-old does have a knack of finding the net on the big stage.
Her first international goal came against Argentina in the 2007 World Cup while she netted twice in the 2011 tournament, as England were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of both.
And Brown-Finnis, who played with her at both those tournaments, expects Scott to step up to the plate once more.
“Technically she’s fantastic, her game understanding has come on leaps and bounds over the years and she’s scored some critical goals for England at big tournaments,” she said. “She’ll be a key player no doubt this summer.
“Jill has been an outstanding player for England for a number of years now. Her energy on the pitch, her willingness to do the legwork a lot of the time – she makes a lot of unselfish runs.
“She brings a lot to any squad – her personality is very infectious, she’s a fun person to be around as well, a fantastic team member, somebody you know will absolutely not leave an ounce of energy on the pitch.”
And the former England stopper believes – provided the likes of 90-cap veteran Scott are on song – England can make a run for the World Cup trophy in Canada, starting with their 2011 conquerors France this evening.
“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,” added Finnis-Brown, who was speaking to launch a new partnership between the Football Association and SSE, which will see a seven-figure sum committed to the women’s game, ring-fencing funding to create a UK-wide programme of girls-only football activity and the competition renamed the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final.
“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.
“I think the key to making it past the quarter-finals is to keep as many key players fit and avoid injury – that’s to do with managing training sessions.
“With all the games being played on artificial 4G pitches there’s a lot of chronic injuries and niggles that they have to deal with, so it’s about managing players off the pitch as well as on it.
“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