Jess Fishlock: Wales midfielder says England game 'not do or die'

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
Jess Fishlock
Jess Fishlock marked her 100th cap for Wales with a stunning goal against Northern Ireland in April 2017
2019 Women's World Cup qualifier: England v Wales
Venue: St Mary's Stadium, Southampton Date: Friday, 6 April Kick-off: 19:00
Coverage: Live TV coverage on BBC Two and BBC Sport website, live commentary on BBC Radio Wales

Jess Fishlock has urged her Wales team-mates not to get "too emotionally involved" in Friday's much-anticipated World Cup qualifier against England.

Wales are top of Group 1 with 10 points from four matches, one point ahead of England, who have a game in hand.

After their best start to a qualifying campaign, 108-cap Fishlock hopes Wales will not be overawed by the occasion, with a big crowd expected at St Mary's.

"This game is huge for us but it's not do or die," she told BBC Sport Wales.

"We have four games to get where we want to get to and if we put everything into this game it might derail what we've got to do next.

"I hope we don't get too emotionally involved in it because that derails what you want to do.

"But I hope we have enough passion to play the way we have to to get something out of the game, and I fully believe we will because we're Welsh and that's something we do very well."

Wales, who have never qualified for a major tournament, are optimistic of reaching the 2019 World Cup in France having won three and drawn one of their four qualifiers to date.

Jayne Ludlow's side have yet to concede a goal in this campaign but face their toughest test when they take on an England team ranked second in the world.

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Friday's fixture in Southampton will be England manager Phil Neville's first qualifier in charge, having overseen a win over France, a draw against Germany and a defeat by the United States in March's She Believes Cup.

With Wales 34th in the world rankings, Fishlock, like her teammate Helen Ward, believes they can use their underdog status to their advantage.

"Yeah, I think so. The pressure is on them, which helps us," the 31-year-old added.

"It's so important. We're going in to win, naturally, but we also understand we're going in against the second best team in the world right now, if you go by the rankings.

"We have to be realistic with what we're going to be able to do.

"The importance is that we maintain how we've played in the campaign so far - we've been solid, we haven't conceded a goal and we've done what we've needed to do from an attacking purpose."

Putting friendships on hold

There will be several rivalries renewed on Friday, with the majority of Wales and England's players regularly facing each other in the Women's Super League.

Fishlock is the only member of Wales' squad who plays abroad, having represented Seattle Reign since 2013.

She was joined at the American club side by England forward Jodie Taylor earlier this year and, in recent weeks, Friday's World Cup qualifier has been the main topic of conversation between the two players.

"It's been funny. I love Jodie. She's a great person, which is most important, and she is a phenomenal football player," said Fishlock.

"Obviously in training we've had a laugh and a joke. I hope she does well but I hope she doesn't do too well!"

Jodie Taylor
In addition to Seattle, England forward Jodie Taylor has also played for Melbourne City with Jess Fishlock

Fishlock has enjoyed an illustrious club career, winning the Champions League with FFC Frankfurt in 2015 as well as league titles in Australia and the Netherlands.

The former Cardiff City and Bristol Academy midfielder has also earned numerous individual awards, but says helping Wales qualify for a first World Cup would eclipse all her other achievements.

"I would trade everything that I've had in for qualifying with my country," said Fishlock.

"I wouldn't even think about it."

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