England Women call up Rachel Williams for Sweden game

By Tony Leighton Women's football correspondent
Rachel Williams
Williams in action against Iceland in 2009, her only previous cap

Birmingham striker Rachel Williams has been named in England's squad for the friendly with Sweden on 17 May at Oxford, increasing her World Cup hopes.

Williams, 23, has hit six goals in Birmingham's first four Super League games, two of them watched by England coach Hope Powell.

Now Powell has named Williams in her last squad before the World Cup finals in Germany in June.

The former Doncaster Belles player said: "It's fantastic, I'm gobsmacked."

She added: "It's been a great start to the season for me and this tops it, but now I have to try to prove myself to Hope Powell and her staff.

"I'm nowhere near my peak and I've still got loads to learn, but this is a great opportunity and hopefully I can make the most of it."

Powell, who has named 26 players for the match at Oxford United's Kassam Stadium, said: "Rachel is powerful, pacey and brave. Those are all good attributes for a striker, and although she lacks a bit in game understanding she certainly has something about her.

"This gives me a good opportunity to have a closer look at her. I've dangled a carrot in front of her and it's up to her to take it."

Williams has made only one previous senior England appearance, as a substitute in her former midfield role in a 2-0 defeat by Iceland in July 2009.

For the game against Sweden she will be part of a squad missing captain Faye White, who has a knee problem.

White will almost certainly be one of the first names on Powell's squad list for the World Cup, but the coach revealed places were still up for grabs.

"The most important thing about the Sweden match is the chance it will give me to make my final squad selection for Germany," said Powell.

"We'll have a behind-closed-doors game against the Swedes as well as the main match, so hopefully every player in the squad will get some game time."

Three days after the game at Oxford, Powell must name a provisional 30-player squad for the World Cup with the final squad of 21 to be announced on 10 June.

The finals kick off on 26 June and England have group games against Mexico (27 June), New Zealand (1 July) and Japan (5 July).

England squad v Sweden

Bardsley (New Jersey Sky Blue), Brown (Everton), Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Telford (Chelsea), Bradley (Lincoln), Johnson (Everton), Rafferty (Chelsea), A Scott (Boston Breakers), Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Susi (Birmingham City), Unitt (Everton), Asante (New Jersey Sky Blue), Bassett (Birmingham City), Buet (Chelsea), Houghton (Arsenal), J Scott (Everton), F Williams (Everton), Aluko (New Jersey Sky Blue), Carney (Birmingham City), Clarke (Lincoln), Dowie (Everton), K Smith (Boston Breakers), S Smith (Lincoln), E White (Arsenal), R Williams (Birmingham City), Yankey (Arsenal).