England set for Junior World Cup test in Chile

U21 women ready to depart for JWC2016

This week Craig Keegan’s England U21 Women start their Junior World Cup campaign. The competition which starts on 24 November and runs until the final on 4 December pits the 16 best women’s U21 teams in the world against each other.

England have been handed a tough assignment, as they have been drawn in Pool C and will open their campaign on 24 November against hosts, Chile. They then take on Australia on 26 November before their final pool match against South Africa on 28 November.

Keegan has named what he has described as a “young but talented” squad for the tournament. With nine players coming from the University of Birmingham there is a degree of familiarity in the group. The team will be led by Leicester defender Kathryn Lane who is the most experienced member of the group and will lead by example.

“I was captain at the warm up tournament in Valencia but I didn’t know if I would continue till I got the call from Craig [Keegan].” said the captain. “We feel more excitement than pressure going into this competition. It would be amazing to go and emulate the GB girls in our tournament but it’ll be tough.”

Lane is excited about working with Keegan as Head Coach, insisting his experiences with the full squad will stand them in good stead in Chile:

“He brings his experiences and it really inspires the girls as it makes the gap between the seniors and us that little less distant as we are working with one of their coaches.”

Lane, who did a Business and Spanish degree at Exeter, is expected not only to lead her side on the field with her defensive dominance and organisational skills but also off the field where her linguistic prowess will come in handy.

There is plenty of talent in the group with goalkeeper Katherine Sommerville a fine shot stopper who has blossomed in her spells at Bowdon Hightown and University of Birmingham. Goals will hopefully be plentiful with the Investec Women’s Premier Division top scorer Erica Sanders in scintillating form whilst Megan Crowson topped the scorers’ charts at the five nations in Spain.

Erica Sanders celebrates opening goal 450

Keegan’s aims for the tournament are clear:

“We are aiming to teach the players what it takes to compete at international level and a tournament of this prestige and this quality is the perfect place to do that. We want to compete and we are aiming to get to the quarter finals. After that, who knows what might happen? It’s a great chance to test the players and get them ready for what it might be like if they make it to senior international level.”

England start their campaign against the hosts this Thursday against hosts Chile at 11pm UK time. Details of the tournament can be found here.