Women's World Cup: Clarke hopes to earn England spot

England winger Jess Clarke hopes she can force her way into the starting line-up after coming on to score the winner against New Zealand in Dresden.

Hope Powell's side came from 1-0 down to beat the Kiwis 2-1 and need a point against Japan to guarantee their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.

"We got off to a rocky start but this win gives us confidence," Clarke, 21, told BBC Sport.

"I want to play from the start against Japan but that's Hope's decision."

The Lincoln Ladies attacker scored with nine minutes remaining against New Zealand to put England's World Cup hopes back on track after a nervy first half.

Having drawn their opening game 1-1 with Mexico, England went behind to an early Sarah Gregorius strike but levelled matters on 63 minutes when Jill Scott, operating in a more advanced role, scored with a header.

"We needed the win and it was fantastic," added Clarke, who was also on target in a recent friendly win over the United States. "You could see that we were plugging away when I came on and we felt we could turn it around."

England captain Faye White admitted that at half-time the team feared they were heading home, but the introduction of Karen Carney and a change in tactics helped them improve their performance.

"We said at half-time that we had 45 minutes to save our World Cup and we did that," said White.

"We had to support the forwards better and get the ball in the box to cause some problems. The win gives us a lift going into the last game."

Japan have looked impressive in their first two Group B fixtures, beating New Zealand 2-1 and then thumping the Mexicans 4-0 on Friday to seal their path to the knockout stages.

They are fourth in Fifa's rankings and have lit up the tournament with their passing and movement, with 32-year-old captain Homare Sawa scoring a hat-trick against the central American side.

A draw in Augsburg will be enough for England to move into the last eight, and there are scenarios that would see them through even if they lose.

But England will be aiming to beat them to win the group and potentially avoid a quarter-final against hosts Germany, though even that would not be guaranteed as France could yet win Group A ahead of the world and European champions.

"We know Japan are a very, very technical side," Powell said. "We'll prepare as best we can as we always do, and hopefully hit the ground running a bit quicker than we have done so far."

Scott commented: "The tournament has not seen the best of us yet. Our aim is to get three points."

And Carney added: "Against New Zealand we stepped up when it was needed and that is the sign of a good team.

"Japan are a great team, they love to pass the ball like Barcelona but we will give it 110% which is all you can do."

Top Stories