Patience has been a virtue for Ellen White and former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis believes the fit-again Notts County striker can hit the ground running at the World Cup.
White, a former pupil of Grange School in Aylesbury, was forced to sit out of the entire 2014 campaign after damaging a cruciate ligament in pre-season but has hardly missed a step since returning to training in January.
She has hit six goals for County already this season and made her international comeback in the victory over China in April.
That marked her 50th cap – all by the age of 26 – and Brown-Finnis insists White will be back to her very best when England take on France in their opening game tonight.
“Injuries are a part of any elite athlete’s journey unfortunately, and Ellen suffered an ACL injury in pre-season last year and missed the entire year,” said Brown-Finnis, who won 82 caps for England before retiring from football in January.
“She’s stuck by the book every single training and rehab session, it’s a long process and she has earned her place in the squad by absolutely flying into this new season.
“In the WSL games so far she has scored goals, set them up, shown the Ellen White from a couple of years ago when she was one of the first names on the England team sheet, so she should be very proud of herself for working so hard and earning that chance to get back into the squad.”
White and England will be hoping to exact a measure of revenge against France, who knocked them out at the quarter-final stage in heartbreaking fashion – a penalty shootout – at the 2011 World Cup.
But White faces stiff competition from her teammates, according to Brown-Finnis, who admits Mark Sampson has an array of weapons from which to choose from in attack.
“Some of the exciting players up front are very creative,” added Finnis-Brown, who was speaking to launch a new partnership between the Football Association and SSE, which will see a seven-figure sum committed to the women’s game, ring-fencing funding to create a UK-wide programme of girls-only football activity and the competition renamed the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final.
“The likes of Fran Kirby have come in, she is a very young player and at her first major tournament as a senior international, which is very exciting.
“Eni Aluko who plays for Chelsea is a phenomenal player, I think she’s coming up to 100 caps, lots of goals and experience at international level – she’s a very pacey and exciting player to watch.
“I think England have got excitement in the forward areas, a range of different types of centre forwards, but they need to make sure they are nice and tight at the back as well, try and stamp out opportunities for other teams as well as creating at the other end.”
Energy providers SSE are the new title sponsors of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, investing in the provision and profile of girls and Women’s football as part of ground-breaking four-year deal.