England Women’s star Karen Carney speaks from experience when she says hosting Denmark at Walsall FC will be the perfect build-up for the rigours of a World Cup campaign.
The Birmingham-born star felt major tournament heartbreak when England were felled by the Danes during the UEFA European Championship on home soil back in 2005.
Almost 15 years down the line, Carney is preparing to face the Scandinavian side once again as the Lionesses put the finishing touches to their World Cup preparations.
In May, England will host their old rivals at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium in their penultimate warm-up match on the road to France.
Carney, who burst onto the map with an injury-time winner over Finland aged 17, feels Denmark offer a rigorous run-out for her side in the build-up to their bigger tests.
“They are a really difficult side to play against because they are aggressive, and attack-minded,” said the 31-year-old.
“They have always kept the same culture – it was the same back in 2005.
“We played them at Ewood Park, their winger Johanna Rasmussen was the star player and they were so quick on the counter.
“It was a good game and I think that a lot of their players have changed in the squad now. We’ve never been fearful of them.
“It is a great test for us to have in the build up to the World Cup because they are always there at the latter stages of these tournaments.”
Carney also faced Denmark during England’s preparations for the 2017 European Championships, her seventh major tournament, that time tasting sweet 2-1 victory.
“Denmark have always been a really tough side and we played them recently in the run up to the Euros in 2017,” added Carney.
“We know all about Pernille Harder – she is top player doing really good things in a strong midfield – they are a strong side top to bottom though.”
The Chelsea ace has gone on to become the third-most capped England player of all time and is now a senior figure in a squad that features a host of bright young stars.
“I think sometimes though with young players it is just best to let them be and give them some breathing space,” she revealed.
“They need to enjoy the journey and embrace the moment – that is what I did when I was young and I thought it was wicked.
“I have been to major tournaments and if the younger players in the squad need me I am here for them and they can always come and ask.
“It is only football at the end of the day but I am still here and I am still enjoying it so long may that continue.”
England Women host Denmark in a ‘Road to France’ international on Saturday, 25 May at Walsall FC, KO 1pm. Tickets available at £10/£1 from https://www.eticketing.co.uk/walsallfc/EDP/Event/Index/1924