England's route to their third UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group C game against France has been somewhat rocky, and that is also the case for Karen Carney personally.
The versatile winger and attacker missed most of the run-up to the finals with an ankle injury, and she even moved into England's new St George's Park training base for a month in a bid to recover fitness. She eventually made the squad and has come off the bench in both games so far, as England suffered a last-gasp defeat by Spain and held Russia 1-1 in equally dramatic circumstances, meaning they need to beat France on Thursday in Linkoping to guarantee progress.
"It's going to be tight," Carney said ahead of a meeting with a team they have played six times since 2006. "England-France is one of those rivalry games, we've played each other millions of times. I've played against a lot of those players since I was 15 or 16, we've grown up in the same age groups together. So we are familiar with all the players, I've played with [Louisa] Necib and [Élodie] Thomis and [Sarah] Bouhaddi for years and years so it is not going to be different – it's going to be tough and tight but the bottom line is we need a result."
Carney made an early appearance against Russia when Rachel Yankey suffered a tight hamstring. The Birmingham City LFC player said: "Obviously Yankey's one of my best mates, it was a gutter to come on for her. I would have liked to come on in different circumstances, if we were winning and just to tighten things up. I went on, I gave it my best, that's all I can do.
"I've worked so hard. The minute I got injured I was so proactive in all my training, diet and nutrition. And when I went to St George's Park they said you are at such a fitness level, we can't help you fitness-wise, we just need to get your ankle better. I don't feel unfit, of course I'd like to be sharper with matches under my belt but that's not the game and I'm not going to dwell on negativity. I'm here, if I'm asked to go on and do something I'll just get on with it."
So now Carney, who came to prominence with a dramatic winner in England's 2005 opener against Finland and helped them to the final four years later, is ready for one last supreme effort. "Everyone keeps going on about nerves, I think it's a blip," the 25–year-old said. "People are forgetting how we got here, how many teams we beat, how well we have done.
"It is a major tournament so people can put it down to nerves but we lost one game and drew one game, it is not the end of the world. People forget our 2009 journey – we lost the first game, were 2-0 down in the second game then we drew our third game. It's no different and we made it to the final."
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