England midfielder Katie Zelem admits it was bittersweet to make her World Cup debut figuring out shut good friend Keira Walsh’s harm was the explanation why.
Manchester United captain Zelem began in England’s 6-1 victory over China, whereas Walsh has stepped up her restoration from the knee drawback she sustained within the 1-0 victory over Denmark.
Zelem, 27, was not a part of boss Sarina Wiegman’s squad to face Brazil and Australia in April and confessed there was a time she didn’t assume she can be on the airplane to the World Cup.
She mentioned: “I think it’s a tough situation, to be honest, especially when Keira is one of my closest friends in the team.
“I think you never want to be playing on someone else’s misfortune, but luckily we found out that Keira’s injury obviously wasn’t too long-term or serious, so that is brilliant news.
“To be honest when I found out I wasn’t picked for the April camp I actually thought that was my World Cup dream over.
“I think that was one of the hardest moments to take, especially following the Euros last year when I wasn’t selected.
“It just kind of felt like there’s not another camp before obviously the selection.
“I think for a couple of days I really thought I’ve worked so hard all season, and it’s just not meant to be, but we had some really important games at Manchester United, obviously fighting for the league title and the FA Cup final.
“I think that really helped shift my focus to being the best I can for club and hopefully whatever I did was enough.”
Walsh joined her team-mates on the Central Coast Stadium on Friday, although the Champions League winner took half in a person programme whereas the remaining 22 Lionesses skilled on the pitch.
On Sunday they’ll journey to Brisbane forward of Monday’s last-16 assembly with world quantity 40 aspect Nigeria, who emerged from Group B whereas Olympic champions Canada – 33 locations above them within the international rankings – had been despatched packing alongside debutants the Republic of Ireland.
Wiegman, who earlier than this event had the status of being unfailingly constant – beginning the identical XI for each match of England’s Euro 2022 triumph – has now proven she is prepared to change between gamers and methods to optimise the Lionesses’ possibilities of profitable in opposition to sides with vastly completely different philosophies and approaches.
The determination to change to a 3-5-2 in opposition to China turned out to be an impressed alternative, whereas new connections quite a few gamers insisted had been forming in coaching appeared to actually begin clicking as England performed with extra fluidity.
On the flip aspect, even within the absence of Walsh, a daily place for somebody like Zelem, who made not simply her World Cup debut however earned her first senior England begin within the ultimate sport of the group stage, is nowhere close to a given.
She mentioned: “As much as we’re all pushing each other and fighting for the starting 11 spot, I think it really is a team effort.
“You can see when different players come on and when different players start the sort of impact they make.”