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Staniforth: New Zealand Match Is Perfect Preparation

26 May 2019

England's final World Cup warm-up game against New Zealand at the Amex is the perfect way to prepare for France according to midfielder Lucy Staniforth.

The game on June 1 will be the last chance for Phil Neville’s team to play competitively before they cross the channel on a mission to bring back the most prestigious trophy in football.

And the Lionesses have an excellent track record at the AMEX Stadium having won their only other game there, beating Montenegro 9-0 in a World Cup qualifier back in 2014.

Over 20,000 fans are expected on the day and Staniforth believes that playing their final game in front of such a big crowd will be exactly the type of experience the team needs before they travel.

“I think it will be fantastic for the group to play our last preparation match in front of such a big crowd at such a wonderful stadium,” she said.

“We saw Arsenal play Brighton there in the FA WSL and to be able to take those experiences, that replicate big-game crowds, into a World Cup is great for us.

“Hopefully the crowd is nice and loud because out in France we might not be able to hear our teammates on the pitch and that will help to prepare us.

“The most recent World Cup always feels like the biggest but we know that we are obliged to inspire the next generation and the fact that it is in France makes it so accessible.

“I am not quite sure that I will ever be able to describe the feeling of playing for my country, let alone at a World Cup and I will be enjoying every single moment of it and make some memories that last forever for me and my family.”

The Birmingham City star has enjoyed a breakthrough year in an England shirt after scoring at, and lifting, the SheBelieves Cup back in March and is desperate to replicate her goalscoring form this summer and get her hands on another trophy.

Phil Neville’s squad is stocked with a mixture of youth and experience and it is that balance that Staniforth believes will be the key to England’s success.

“It was such a fantastic experience to go to the SheBelieves Cup and play against the top teams in the world and then end up lifting the trophy was amazing but we don’t want to be known as the team that won the SheBelieves Cup, we want to be known as the team that won the World Cup,” she said.

“I had a funny feeling that I might score in America so hopefully I get that feeling again in France.

“The young players we have around the team are fearless and they are taking their opportunities with both hands at the moment to show the world what they can do.

“To take players like that to the World Cup is perfect because it breeds within the team and although you have your level-heads that keep everyone on track it is the fearlessness that spirals.

“We have said all along that the pressure in this group comes from the inside and we don’t pay much attention to what is going on the outside.

“We have set our sights on winning the World Cup and becoming number one in the world so we are fully aware of the pressure we are putting ourselves under and hopefully it brings the best out of us.”

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