Barcelona’s Duggan declares herself fit for Japan clash

England forward Toni Duggan has declared she will be fit for the Women’s World Cup clash with Japan on Wednesday and says she is “itching to get out there.”

Duggan sustained a thigh problem in training the day after the Lionesses arrived in France for the tournament and subsequently sat out their opening two Group D games – a 2-1 win against Scotland and 1-0 victory over Argentina.

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s match in Nice, the 27-year-old told Press Association Sport: “I’m going to be fit, so I have a big smile on my face.

“It’s really frustrating to pick up an injury at any point in a year, but the first day of a World Cup was really, really disappointing. I’m back now, that’s good and I want to look ahead and hopefully help the team in the tournament.

“I’m itching to get out there.”

Duggan added: “To miss training sessions, to not be around the team, to be doing stuff individually, it can be quite tough. But I’ve tried to stay positive.

“I know it’s a team game and I need to help my team-mates, and I’m one of the more experienced squad members, so I’ve tried to do that. Quite a few of the girls are at their first World Cup, so I’ve tried to have an input off the pitch, which hopefully has been effective.

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“But I think now it’s time for me to have an input on the pitch, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Duggan was in the England team that was beaten 2-1 by Japan in the semi-finals of the 2015 tournament in Canada, a match settled by Laura Bassett’s injury-time own-goal.

It was England’s first appearance in the last four of a Women’s World Cup and they subsequently finished third.

Barcelona player Duggan said: “Crazy game. To lose a game in the last minute when your team-mate scores an own goal, it’s really difficult for us as a team and for the individual. But what a tournament. I reflect on that tournament with great memories to be honest.

“Obviously it’s always disappointing when you lose, but I think we inspired a nation. That was our biggest aim that year. I think this year there’s a different focus – we’re here to win it.

“There’s a lot of belief in the squad. If you compare the two squads, we’ve kept the kind of core group together and I think that’s been part of our success.”

England, with six points after two Group D games, have already secured a place in the last 16 and on Wednesday will look to seal top spot in the pool.

Duggan said: “It’s not about any revenge or how we played last time (in 2015) against Japan. It’s just about topping the group at this World Cup, that’s our aim.”

 

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