Lauren James has to start for England at the World Cup! Winners and losers as Lionesses win the Arnold Clark Cup

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Lauren James England Women 2023
The Chelsea star was outstanding for the Lionesses in February, almost certainly securing a spot on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.

Last year, in the build-up to Euro 2022, England won the Arnold Clark Cup. This month, in the build-up to the Women's World Cup, they did it again.

The tournament proved to be a springboard for the Lionesses first time around, as they tested themselves against some of the world's best teams in preparation for a home Euros that they would go on to win.

Could that be the case again in 2023 as they bid to become world champions? Only time will tell.

This Arnold Clark Cup was significant in another way, too, though, as there will be only one more international break before Sarina Wiegman picks her Women's World Cup squad.

So, who put themselves in a strong position during this camp? And who is running out of time to prove they deserve a place on that roster? GOAL takes a look below...

  1. WINNER: Rachel Daly

    WINNER: Rachel Daly

    Could this be the end of Rachel Daly's days as a full-back?

    Maybe not absolutely, but it certainly feels like the Aston Villa star has earned the right to more opportunities in attacking areas after her showing at the Arnold Clark Cup.

    Daly is a No.9 for her club, yet, when she joins up with her international team-mates, her position is different. She's long played as a full-back or as a winger – on both sides – for her country, but that's starting to change.

    The 31-year-old started as a striker in England's last game of 2023, scoring in the 1-1 draw with Norway. When the Lionesses took on Italy in this tournament, she led the line again – this time netting two brilliant headers.

    "I think when she's in the box, she's just an instinctive finisher," Niamh Charles, her England team-mate, told GOAL. "She's always on the move, looking. To have someone like that in the box, it gets you goals."

    Daly's versatility means it's unlikely she'll only be a No.9 from here on. She's adamant that she will play anywhere she is needed, too.

    But it's clear that it's a position in which she thrives, and by putting in performances like this when she gets the chance to play up front, she's only going to get more.

  2. LOSER: Beth England

    LOSER: Beth England

    Daly's performances in the No.9 role are not only good for her, but also for Wiegman.

    That she has a player who can be so effective there while also reliably playing in various other positions is a big positive, as it means she can cover more areas and add more variety to her 23-strong World Cup squad.

    Last summer, Wiegman took three out-and-out No.9s to the Euros: Ellen White, who has since retired; Alessia Russo, now the first-choice centre forward; and Beth England, who was not included in this month's squad.

    With Daly performing so well in this position for club and country, does Wiegman need to take three other strikers to the World Cup? Probably not.

    With Russo almost certain to be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand, that would leave Ebony Salmon and England battling it out for the last spot.

    It means the competition for places is even tougher and the window for England to make an impression is closing. She's doing all she can at club level – scoring four goals in her first five Tottenham games, after joining the club in January to increase her chances of going to the World Cup.

    But will it be enough?

  3. WINNER: Katie Robinson

    WINNER: Katie Robinson

    The game against Italy marked Katie Robinson's first senior start for England. The 20-year-old Brighton winger has been something of a left-field inclusion in Wiegman's recent squads but she showed just why the Dutchwoman has been impressed with her in this camp.

    Robinson was the liveliest performer in the first half of the Lionesses' 2-1 win, before substitutions made the second half a little different.

    Indeed, it was her wonderful delivery that allowed Daly to break the deadlock with a header.

    Her work out wide was positive, confident and helped England to assert their dominance on the game.

    "It's really nice to see her doing that on this stage," Wiegman said after the game, with the youngster having done her chances of making this summer's World Cup squad absolutely no harm this past week.

  4. LOSER: Nikita Parris

    LOSER: Nikita Parris

    While Robinson was catching the eye, Nikita Parris was at home.

    The Manchester United forward, who was part of England's Euro 2022-winning squad, didn't get a call-up for this camp and the emergence of this bright and talented young winger is another obstacle for her in her quest to go to the World Cup.

    Jess Park is also competing to join that pool of forwards and she, too, had a promising tournament with the Lionesses.

    Handed a start against Italy, not everything that the 21-year-old tried came off, but she was energetic and positive when she got forward and linked up well with the wide players as well, having been deployed in that No.10 role.

    There is only one more international break for these players to showcase what they can do in an England environment before Wiegman picks her World Cup squad.

    That means, right now, Robinson and Park feel ahead of Parris in the race for a place.

  5. WINNER: Lauren James

    WINNER: Lauren James

    With only five senior caps to her name before the Arnold Clark Cup, Lauren James' inclusion in this summer's Women's World Cup squad didn't seem absolutely certain, even though she's an incredible talent who is in top form.

    However, it now feels like the Chelsea star has secured her seat on the plane after this tournament.

    James netted her first senior international goal in England's first game, capping off her stand-out display in a 4-0 win over South Korea. "She's a cheat code," said Leah Williamson, the Lionesses' captain, afterwards.

    Three days later, she came off the bench and whipped in a sumptuous cross for Daly to head home, giving England a 2-1 win over Italy.

    The 21-year-old rounded off a fruitful camp with another excellent assist against Belgium, for Chloe Kelly, picking up the Player of the Tournament award and the NXGN Young Player accolade as a result of her efforts across the trio of games.

    She's not even hit double figures for England caps yet, but James looks like she's been playing on this stage for years, such is her confidence, composure and impact.

    Not only will she go to the World Cup, but she's sure to play a key role in any success her country has. In fact, it's hard to argue against her being in Wiegman's first-choice XI right now.

  6. LOSER: Emily Ramsey

    LOSER: Emily Ramsey

    This camp was an exciting opportunity for Emily Ramsey, the 22-year-old goalkeeper who was hoping to make her senior debut after just her second call-up.

    Ramsey has caught the eye on loan at Everton from Manchester United this season, showcasing some great form as she bids to push for that third goalkeeper spot in the World Cup squad.

    However, she was unable to fully demonstrate what she could do in this environment due to an ankle injury that was picked up before England's second fixture in the tournament.

    Ramsey was sent back to her club as a result, where she will work on recovering. Hopefully, for both her sake and Everton's, it is not too serious and she can challenge for a place in the Lionesses' squad in April, to make up for a premature end to what could have been a big experience this month.