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Arnold Clark Cup

Houston Dash star Daly can offer England ‘important’ insight on Canada’s NWSL players, says Walsh

23:12 EAT 15/02/2022
Rachel Daly England Women 2021
Nine players in Canada's squad for the Arnold Clark Cup play in the United States, three of whom play with Daly in Texas

England midfielder Keira Walsh believes that international team-mate Rachel Daly’s insight into members of Canada’s squad is “important to hear” ahead of their Arnold Clark Cup clash.

The two nations will meet on Thursday evening in Middlesbrough in each team’s first game of the inaugural tournament, which kicks off with Germany vs Spain earlier in the day.

It’s a game that will see Daly, who plays her football with the Houston Dash in the NWSL, come up against three of her club-mates - Allysha Chapman, Sophie Schmidt and Nichelle Prince.

What has been said?

Asked about Canada’s talent, Walsh told media on Tuesday: “I play with Janine Beckie at [Manchester] City and they're all a similar style. They're all very fast and very direct.

“Rachel talks to us about some of the players she's played with and against in the NWSL and I think it's important for us to hear that and draw from her experiences of playing against them.

“We imagine them to be quite direct, and they're all very quick and I think from seeing the girls in the WSL this year, Jessie Fleming had a great start to Chelsea and she's carried that on through the second half of the season.

“Obviously, we have to respect the opposition, but for us, it's about focusing on what we're doing and sticking to the game plan in those games and just starting this tournament confidently and playing well as a team.”

It’s not just some of Canada’s players that are well-known in the England camp. Head coach Bev Priestman was the Lionesses’ assistant coach before she took her current job in North America in 2020. Priestman led Canada to Olympic gold last summer, less than a year after being appointed.

“A lot of the girls got on with Bev,” Walsh said of the 35-year-old. “She was a great person and a great person to have in and around the camp.

“I think she’s very organised in defence and that’s something that she always prided the team on when she was here, and I imagine she does the same in Canada if you watch them play. They’re very good at pressing. They’re organised and tough to break down.

“I think since Bev's been their manager, they probably play a little bit more and try and keep possession. I think, for us it's about focusing on what we've been doing in the World Cup qualifiers.

"Obviously, it's better opposition in these three games but I think it’s just trying to implement that against tougher teams and trying to see how we cope in the games. Hopefully, it will be a good experience for us all this week.”

‘England have experience against Spain’s Barca stars’

England’s second Arnold Clark Cup fixture will come on Sunday, when they take on an exciting Spain team that features 10 players from Barcelona, the reigning European champions.

Walsh came up against that Barca team in last season’s Women’s Champions League campaign with Man City, losing the first leg 3-0 and winning the second 2-1. It was one of just three games the Catalans lost all term – in all competitions – but it wasn’t enough for City to stop them on their journey to the UWCL title.

Asked if she could draw on the experiences of those two games when coming up against many of the same players at the weekend, Walsh said: “A lot of the Barcelona team is of the Spanish national team and I imagine that they do play a very similar style of play.

“I think from the first game at City we probably gave them a little bit too much respect. I think we were probably a bit too apprehensive about how good they are on the ball.

“I think that's something that we took into the second leg, especially with just being a bit more aggressive and on the front foot. Obviously, they're unbelievable at keeping the ball and playing possession. But I think for us, it was just about getting in their faces a little bit more.

“I think all of us can draw on those experiences - Chelsea have played them before, and Arsenal, so we've got a lot of experience at club [of] playing against these players. Hopefully we can we can bring that into the game on Sunday.”

Tickets to watch England, Germany, Spain and Canada play in the Arnold Clark Cup are available now. Matches are being broadcast live in the UK on ITV.

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