Karen Carney says England cannot afford to be complacent when they face Bosnia & Herzegovina later this month - despite it being one of their easier games on paper.
Both teams won their opening World Cup qualifying games, but given the high standard of competition in the women’s game, Carney says England, of whom Vauxhall are proud sponsors, have to be at the top of their game to ensure they continue their good run.
The Lionesses won their opening qualifier against Russia 6-0, while Bosnia beat Kazakhstan 2-0 and the pair will clash under the lights at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium on Friday November 24 (ko 7.05pm).
England have the edge in their recent games - winning 1-0 twice in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2017 – but Carney is under no illusions as to the importance of a solid performance.
“You’ve got to always respect your opposition, especially at the international level now,” she said.
“The margins are small and teams are getting closer and closer to each other. There are no big gaps between the big teams anymore so it will be tough.
“When I first came into the England set up, there was a significant difference between USA, Germany and Japan and everybody else – they were significantly better.
“Germany and the USA are still both super powers, but I think teams are a lot closer to them now."
“Against Bosnia & Herzegovina, we’ll have to work extremely hard. Last time we had to be really patient and believe that a chance would come.
“We had to try and ride it out and try and stay in the game like any team would, so we’ll just have to take our chances when we get them.”
England’s game with Bosnia & Herzegovina is the first of two qualifiers on home soil in November, with the Lionesses heading to Colchester just four days later.
Mo Marley’s side will take on Kazakhstan for the very first time, and Carney is excited at the prospect of taking the women’s game to its fans.
“It’s important that we try and hit as many fans across the country as we can because not everyone is privileged enough to be able to afford to travel to games when they’re so far away,” she said.
“They might have school or their parents can’t take them, so it’s important for us to travel up and down the country to try and promote our sport.
“We want to give everyone the best opportunity to come and watch the Lionesses play as frequently as possible.
“There’s always big supporters all across England and I think that’s good because we get to travel and give as many people the opportunity to find the sport as possible.”
England face Bosnia & Herzegovina in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier at Walsall FC on 24 November. Buy tickets (£10 Adult/£1 Under-18) at www.thefa.com/tickets