Liverpool Ladies striker Natasha Dowie knows England face tough game with Sweden
By Dev Trehan
Last Updated: 24/07/14 2:55pm
Striker Natasha Dowie thinks next week's friendly against Sweden will be a good indicator of how much the England women's team has progressed under manager Mark Sampson.
Hartlepool’s Victoria Park is the venue for the match against the Swedes, who take on England 18 days before Sampson's side can seal qualification for the 2015 World Cup with a draw against Wales.
Sweden are three places above England at No.5 in the world rankings, and Dowie says regardless of the result, England will analyse the performance and use it to help them going forward.
"It will be a great challenge for us because Sweden are a top team," the Liverpool Ladies striker told Sky Sports. “There are some real world class players in their team that have played in Champions League finals.
"We played against some world class players against France in the Cyprus Cup which was a great experience and you want to play against the top nations, the likes of Sweden and Germany.
"They'll provide really tough competition - and no disrespect to the sides we've played recently - they're not world-class individuals in the same way as Sweden.
"Hopefully we can get a lot from that match leading into the Wales game and it will also be a good benchmark to see where we're at before next summer’s World Cup in Canada.
"It will be good to see where we're at and we'll learn a lot from it whether we win, lose or draw."
The Sweden friendly will be Sampson’s 10th game as England manager and Dowie, who was named in the 23-strong squad for the game, was keen to praise the 31-year-old’s performance so far.
“He's great, he's enthusiastic and I've been really impressed with way he's gone about things,” she said. “He just wants you to be yourself which is quite refreshing for a player.
“He picks players on form and he's showed that in his selections, so I think that gives players the hunger to perform at club level because they know they will get rewarded on the international stage.
“I still think there is much more to come from all of us individually and as a team and he’s still implementing his ideas.
“There’s still a long way to go till the World Cup so he’s got plenty of time to do that but we are unbeaten (in competitive matches), so I think he has had a very good start to his managerial career with England.”