Toni Ready For Welsh Test

On Saturday, England play Wales in a World Cup qualifying match that a lot of people have been looking forward to.

To be honest though, for me, it’s just another game – I don’t really focus on the opposition. I just concentrate on what we can do. If we can get that right then I truly believe we can beat anyone on our day.

Wales do have some stand out players. Jess Fishlock was named Player’s Player of the Year a couple of seasons in the WSL and has just been named her club’s MVP out in America. So we will pinpoint them but I don’t think it makes it harder or easier that we know them from playing against them for our clubs. If anything it adds that spice.

As you’ll be aware, Brent Hills is continuing as manager for the time being. Under him we have had two good results already so for us its business as usual. I have worked with Brent for a while but you still never quite know what he is thinking so I went into the England camp full of confidence and wanting to prove a point. I am glad he gave me the opportunity to do that.

The structure has been similar to what we have had in recent years but to be honest that’s England. It never really changes off the pitch. I think Brent has tried to implement certain things that he wanted to get out of the games, and I think that worked and it showed in the results. However I wouldn’t say there were any massive differences in terms of how we set about preparing for games.

I think we played really well against Belarus and Turkey. In the Belarus game I really wanted to get on the score-sheet but it wasn’t to be. I was a bit disappointed – that’s the striker in me! – but I set up a couple so I was happy with that. I managed to make up for that in the Turkey game with a hat-trick.

Celebrating with Eni Aluko

Celebrating with Eni Aluko

Even when it got to 6-0 against Turkey we still continued to press forward and perform well. In games like that it is easy for your standards to drop and people can be selfish and want to get on the score-sheet but I don’t think that happened.

The goals were spread out around the team and even the substitutes that came on were professional. It can be quite tough coming on at 6-0 but I think everyone who played kept the standard high and that made it a good performance.

Admittedly, the past two games haven’t been against what you would call world beaters but the way we played has given us a lot of confidence. They were probably the type of games that we needed after the Euros to help us get our belief back.

That being said, we won’t be underestimating Wales – we know what they can offer. It will be a tough game but hopefully we can keep our standards and get a positive result.


Toni Duggan: I’m Ready For The Derby

I think the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool has always stemmed from the men’s side.

It’s a big footballing city with two massive teams and if you talk to the people here it’s always Liverpool or Everton, Blue or Red. It’s a big divide and that gets taken into the women’s game as well.

For me, it’s a bit difficult to talk about the divide because when I was little I was a Liverpool fan but I started at Everton from a young age. I was a bit unhappy about signing for them because I would have to wear the blue shirt!

But I have grown to love this club and I have appreciated everything that Everton has done for me. For anyone in the city, to cross that border would be tough so for me to have done it is quite strange – but I am glad I did.

The past two derbies haven’t gone quite as we would have liked. We were unfortunate in the first game, in the Continental Cup which ended 1-1, because we were on top in that game but never capitalised. They were also unfortunately given a penalty that I felt was soft.

In action against ex-team mate Fara Williams (Getty Images)

In action against ex-team mate Fara Williams (Getty Images)

In the second derby it was very disappointing to lose 4-1. Liverpool were the better team on the day and deserved to win. I still remember how I felt the next day – I was gutted. All defeats hurt of course but especially against your rivals in a derby.

So we will be going into this game hoping we can come out on top. We will be giving it our all but I am sure Liverpool will be as well.

There are of course a number of players that have swapped clubs. When you come up against players who have left it does add that extra spice, especially when you have played with those girls for a number of years.

It’s different coming up against them but we are Everton and we are going into the game wanting to win – the past is the past. We have got the squad that we have and we are happy with that.

It is irrelevant what has happened – we just want those three points.

Toni Duggan: ‘Disappointment will inspire me’

It’s not really that nice to be back with the girls at Everton. Nothing against my team-mates but I should have been out in Sweden a lot longer than I was.

But it is what it is. The tournament wasn’t meant to be for us and my focus now turns back to club football.

A lot of individual players have been asked what went wrong a few times but I don’t think there was one thing you could put your finger on. I think it was a coming together of things. It just didn’t happen for us. On the pitch we were ready, before we went into the tournament we had done all our preparation right but it just didn’t happen out there. We now have to look back, review and see what we can improve on.

I did receive a fair bit of media coverage while I was out there, especially after my goal against Russia. It is nice to be recognised but to be honest I was just thankful to get time out on the pitch. To get the goal that kept England in the competition, obviously you are going to get attention from the media and people back home.

It was a nice feeling but it didn’t overshadow the disappointment of us not succeeding at that tournament. I would have given up that goal if it meant us going further than we did. But as I say, it wasn’t meant to be. I can be happy personally from what came out of the Euros but it was still disappointing for the team.

I have always been determined to succeed with England – not doing so well in Sweden hasn’t changed that. Since playing in the youth teams with England – whether it has been away for a friendly or a training camp – I have always wanted to be in that squad. It is a difficult thing to get into and it’s always important to be there or thereabouts. I will continue to kick on and fighting for my place because it is not always guaranteed.

The disappointment out in Sweden will inspire me for the rest of the WSL season. Football is not all rosy, not all up, up, up or always positive – you are going to have set backs. It’s about bouncing back from them and hopefully that’s what I can do.

Back at Everton, hopefully I can pick up where I left off before the break. I thought I had a good first half of the season so I want to take that into the second half.

I am pleased to have scored a few goals. It’s good to be the number nine in the team, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. I thrive off that though. Now that I have it on my back I just want to score goals. I feel that is my job but I want to help the team however I can. If other people are scoring and we are achieving then that doesn’t bother me too much.

The gap between us and the top two is seven points but everyone has to play everyone. We’ve seen from the first half of the season that anyone is capable of beating anyone in the WSL so who knows what will happen.

All I know is that we will be confident and a lot stronger than we were in the first half of the season. The second ‘pre-season’ has gone well and hopefully we can get off to a good start against Bristol Academy.