Bassett desperate to extend stay


Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Defensive rock Laura Bassett has vowed England are not ready to come home as they chase a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Bassett took a wild elbow in the face in England’s opening game against France that left her with a black eye, but the gutsy centre-back has rebounded impressively to play a key role alongside captain Steph Houghton in the back four.

Manager Mark Sampson is expected to keep the pair together for Saturday’s quarter-final against hosts Canada in Vancouver, where almost 60,000 spectators will fill the BC Place stadium.

It will be the largest home crowd any Canadian football team, men’s or women’s, has played before, and England are determined to spoil the carnival atmosphere.

After making impressive progress until now, England certainly do not want to be packing their bags on Sunday.

“The players and the staff all feel it’s too early to go home,” Bassett told Press Association Sport.

“Although we’ve been out here for a very long time, we don’t feel ready to leave.

“We’ve still got unfinished business.

“People will be missing friends and family and everyone back home but it’s good to know that everyone’s focused.”

The last-16 victory over Norway was England’s first win in a knock-out game at any Women’s World Cup.

The women’s finals has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams for the first time, creating an extra round, and England came good in Ottawa where defenders Houghton and Lucy Bronze scored the goals that saw off the Norwegians.

Now, in their fourth appearance at the World Cup quarter-final stage, there is a golden opportunity for Mark Sampson’s side to claim an even greater place in national team history by going further than any England women’s team previously.

“I think we are firmly keeping our feet on the ground,” Bassett said.

“We’ve gained so much belief. The voodoo was over the fact England had never won a knock-out game and now we’ve done that we’ve pushed all boundaries.

“The belief and the confidence and the aura in this group has gone sky high.

“We know we can’t leave any stone unturned for this one, we’ll give it our all and hopefully that’s enough to take us through to the semi-final.

“We drove past the stadium on Tuesday when we came in from the airport to the hotel, and it’s there for everyone to see.

“Nothing really changes in terms of how you view the opposition, the training you go through and the preparation, which just keeps everyone focused. If you start changing things at this stage, all of a sudden you realise how big of a game it is.

“But it can’t come soon enough, we’re just so excited.”

Canada edged a jet-lagged England 1-0 in a friendly before the World Cup began, but Bassett sees that as an irrelevance, instead focusing on the Lionesses’ victories over Geordie John Herdman’s side at the Cyprus Cup this year and last.

Canada manager Herdman, who has this week gamely attempted to play down his English background, could in turn point to his team’s victory over Great Britain in Coventry at the quarter-final stage of the 2012 Olympics.

Bassett, 31, plays for Notts County in the Women’s Super League. She has been an England international since 2003, and this is her second World Cup.

It may prove to be her last, but she is adamant Saturday’s game should not be the final step on England’s journey.

“I think there will be a lot of pressure on Canada to perform in their home country in front of all their home fans,” Bassett said.

“We know everyone’s going to be supporting Canada and you want to prove people wrong. We’ll be prepared for that.”

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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