England Women v Belgium Women

Mark Sampson

Mark Sampson led England to third place at the World Cup last year

BBC coverage

How to follow:Watch live on BBC Two and online, listen on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and follow text commentary on the BBC Sport website

England manager Mark Sampson has no plans to experiment with his side as they head into two Euro 2017 qualifiers in five days.

The Lionesses, who have won both Group Seven matches so far, face leaders Belgium in Rotherham on Friday before travelling to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A victory over the Belgians will take England top, above their opponents and second-placed Serbia.

“There’s never a time to experiment with the England team,” Sampson said.

Last season’s Women’s Super League One top scorer Beth Mead has yet to earn a first international cap, but the Sunderland striker will have to wait a little longer for her debut.

“It’s great we’re getting different opinions [about selection] because it shows there’s an interest in the game,” Sampson added.

“It’s not so long ago that nobody really cared and nobody knew the players we had.

“We’re clear on the type of players we need but I’m also confident we’ve got a lot of players out there who have stuck their hand up for selection. The 23 we’ve got have probably stuck their hand up a little bit higher.”

Despite winning both qualifiers so far – a 1-0 home victory against the Bosnians and an 8-0 thrashing of Estonia – England are third in their group, a point behind Belgium and Serbia, who have played one and two games more respectively.

England, ranked fourth in the world by Fifa and who came third at the 2015 World Cup, are favourites to overcome 28th-ranked Belgium on Friday (19:55 BST) and go on to win the group and secure a place in the tournament in the Netherlands.

But Sampson said: “They’re a good team and an up-and-coming women’s football nation. They’re athletic, organised and they’ve got some exciting players, and most importantly they’ve got a strong heart and won’t give in.

“But the way this England team is moving forward at the moment, we’re really focused on ourselves and keeping moving in the right direction.”

comments powered by Disqus