Potter wants to cast a double spell
JAYNE LUDLOW remained upbeat despite losing her first competitive game in charge of Wales 3-0 in Austria.
Ludlow took over the side in October but their opening Euro 2017 qualifying game on Tuesday was her first game.
The former captain, who scored 19 goals in 61 appearances for her country before retiring in 2012, could only watch on as goals from Katharina Schiechtl, Sarah Puntigam and Nina Burger sealed victory.
Ludlow said:“There were many aspects I was pleased with but the fact that we got done by two set plays, I’m not very pleased with.
“The last goal was a positional error so there are things we can correct and we can work on and build for the future.
“There were a few girls on that pitch who haven’t experienced international football before so it was very pleasing to see their performances.”
Kim Little gave Scotland the perfect start to their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign with a hat-trick in the 3-0 victory in Slovenia.
The 25-year-old chipped the goalkeeper to give Anna Signeul’s side a half-time lead.
And then the Seattle Reign striker rounded the goalkeeper twice in the second period to ease the Scots to victory.
Little said:“It’s always nice to score goals for your country, and to get another hat-trick is great. But most important is getting the win.”
The Republic of Ireland were unable to repeat the Scot’s impressive work though, as they lost 2-0 to Finland.
A wickedly-deflected cross by defender Emma Koivisto early on and Linda Sallstrom’s header midway through the second half was enough for Finland, as Ireland rued poor finishing.
Northern Ireland have to wait until October 24 for their first Euro 2017 qualifier, when they take on Georgia. INTERNATIONAL glory; domestic survival: those are the twin aims of Birmingham City and England midfielder Jo Potter.
As she sets out on the national team’s quest for 2017 European Championships gold, Potter is at the same time looking to help her club team avoid relegation from the top flight of the Women’s Super League.
Six days after she was in the England side that trounced Estonia 8-0 in the first of their Euro qualifiers, Potter will today step out for Blues knowing that victory over Notts County will ensure WSL1 safety.
The 30-year-old former Arsenal, Charlton Athletic and Everton player gave herself a timely morale boost ahead of today’s game with what was her third international goal.
“I was a bit shocked to get a goal,” said Potter, “even though we scored eight. I had a defensive midfield role so didn’t expect to get forward too much, but it was nice to show I can push forward effectively as well as do my defensive duties.
“In terms of goalscoring though, I was delighted for the two players who made their debuts and got their names on the scoresheet.
“Danielle Carter got a hattrick – and I think she’s the first player to do that on debut for the women’s team – and Izzy Christiansen hit a fantastic goal.
“As a team we could probably have scored more than eight goals, but it was a good scoreline for us and most importantly it was a very solid performance from a side that showed so many changes from our last match.”
That previous game, 11 weeks earlier, was the 1-0 bronze medal win against Germany in the thirdplace play-off at the World Cup finals in Canada.
Potter was in England’s starting line-up on that historic evening in Edmonton and was one of only three players (Manchester City colleagues Steph Houghton and Jill Scott were the other two) who started in Estonia.
“The fact that we performed so well despite having so many team changes – and in a 3-4-1-2 formation that we’d not used before – showed the strength in depth we’ve now got and the adaptability of the players,” said Potter.
“With the pool of talent that Mark Sampson has now got to call on we’re in a position to really kick on from the World Cup success, and I believe we can do even better when it comes to the European Championships.
“I’m confident of winning our qualifying group and then, as long as we continue progressing as a team, we can go to the finals feeling capable of winning gold.”
Reaching the Euro finals should be well within England’s capabilities as, in their qualifying group, they will be facing teams that sit much lower than themselves in the world rankings.
So friendlies such as November’s meeting with Germany, ranked second in the world and a team England had never beaten before this year, will be much tougher and more beneficial as Sampson looks to further develop his team.
Potter said: “We need to be playing the likes of Germany and America if we are going to keep on improving.
“We played both of those nations in the run-up to the World Cup and those games showed us the levels we needed to reach to compete with the very best.
“We lost both games, but we learned invaluable lessons that we put to good use in Canada. Now we’ve got to step up another level to not
compete with but beat the world’s best on a consistent basis.”
An October friendly against a highly-ranked nation is set to be announced this week, meanwhile Potter’s attention has switched from England to Birmingham and the battle to stay in WSL1.
They may be helped today by Manchester City, a victory for whom over Bristol Academy will sentence Academy to relegation even if Blues should lose to Notts.
But Potter said: “We’ll be paying no attention to the Bristol game, we want to do the job for ourselves and we’ll be going flat out to beat County.
“We had a poor first half of the season, mainly because of injuries to key players, but even though we’ve still been having injury problems we’ve really picked up.
“We’ve won seven of our last nine League and Cup games and so we’ll be going to Notts totally believing we can get the result we want.”
A measure of the turnaround in Birmingham’s form has been the results of two recent meetings with WSL champions elect Chelsea.
In early August a crushing 4-0 league defeat was suffered at Chelsea. Five weeks later revenge was extracted in the Continental Cup, Potter herself hitting the goal as Birmingham produced a shock 1-0 win to reach the last four.
A semifinal win against Arsenal or holders Manchester City, whose quarter-final has not yet been played, would now take Blues into the final and a chance to end a largely disappointing season on a trophy-winning note.
Beating either of those two big guns would be another surprise, but Potter said: “Morale and belief was high before the Chelsea game and it will be the same again whoever we have to play in the semi-final.
“We’re absolutely determined to get to that final and then lift the trophy – winning the Conti Cup would be the perfect way to round off our season.”
LIONESS: Jo Potter playing for England and in action for Birmingham, inset