The first thing to mention is the opposition : Croatia is a young nation in term of women’s football. Atmosphere might be hostile there but a solid performance will see a win. So the contents of the game will be as important as the result.
A 23 players squad 4 goalkeepers 6 defenders 7 midfields and 6 forwards.
Karen Bardsley (Linköping), Rachel Brown (Everton), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
Gemma Bonner (Chelsea),
Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Dunia Susi (Chelsea), Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Rachel Unitt (Birmingham City)
Anita Asante (Goteborg), Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Dani Buet (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Jade Moore (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Everton), Fara Williams (Everton)
Eniola Aluko (Birmingham City), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Jess Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Natasha Dowie (Everton), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City), Ellen White (Arsenal)
The goalkeeping situation is bizzare, I mean 4 goalies when you can only put 2 on a teamsheet. It seems obvious this period is used as a training camp to evaluate the 4 girls. It is a special position on the pitch, so the hierarchy shouldn’t change very often because you can’t drop a goalie after one mistake. You need consistency in low quality performance. It took like 3 years for Rachel Brown to pass the baton to Karen Bardsley. How long before Telford or Chamberlain get a proper chance ?
Defenders usual players called-up. 2 surprising choices : Gemma Bonner and Sophie Bradley. Bonner rewarded for her good U23 and club performances which is nice but it does ask the question about Gilly Flaherty’s non inclusion. Why is she rated not good enough obviously while she has 100 games for Arsenal has been a regular in the side for 3 years and won everything possible winning every honour and playing in the champions league.
Bradley’s inclusion while she had no game time since her injury is also puzzling while Faye White has started playing games already and therefore is ahead of her in term of schedule.
Midfields Danielle Buet is called back. She is in and out of squads which is a difficult situation. Jordan Nobbs could have been called up last year when her form was excellent then had a little dip but is back now and should knock at the door soon.
Forwards No Yankey no Davison. 4 center forwards for 1 place on the pitch. 3 of them have the same profile and 1 is different Dowie. Not sure Hope Powell like that profile because Sanderson was similar as Dowie and scored 120 in 3 seasons but never got a proper chance.
Overall I think the main thing England has work to be done is the attacking side of the game. It really looked like work in progress at the Cyprus Cup. In the game I attended, the poor center forwards Ellen White and Rachel Williams were starved of the ball despite doing all the runs required and giving 100%. England didn’t seem to be interested in passing the ball through the midfield much, in order to create space and opening for the forwards. Huge reliance on direct play and winning the second balls. It works if the opposition makes mistakes but they are pretty rare at the highest level, if you get 2 in a game you can count yourself lucky…
Update on 27th of March Casey Stoney has not travelled as well Sophie Bradley so Anita Asante, Laura Bassett or Stephanie Houhgton will probably be used as defenders on that trip.