Scotland’s Lee Alexander ‘counting the days’ to World Cup

There was a time when Lee Alexander was counting down the months. Then it was the weeks. Now she is ticking off the days. But one thing she is not counting is her chickens.

Lee Alexander in action for Scotland Women. Pic: SNS/SFA/Rob Casey

Since playing her part in helping Scotland’s women to qualify for their first ever World Cup, the Glasgow City goalkeeper has had one eye on the upcoming tournament in France but with club fixtures to fulfil and a final warm-up game to think about first, the players are still awaiting confirmation of exactly who will make it into manager Shelley Kerr’s squad of 23.

Alexander has been the first-choice keeper under Kerr and is favourite to take her place between the sticks in the group games against England, Argentina and Japan but she knows that nothing is guaranteed, with fitness and form all playing their part. But that hasn’t stopped her dreaming.

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“The big thing is realising that it is less than 40 days and you see things on Twitter and it does remind you that it really is getting closer. We were counting down the weeks to the first game but now we are looking at it in days. It is a strange thing because we all know that we still have club football. There is still five or six games and we have a lot to play for but in the back of your head I think we are all focusing on that main goal of making sure we are in the squad to go to France.”

At Edinburgh Castle as the World Cup trophy made an appearance, it was a reminder of the growing enthusiasm and the wider recognition as the nation’s top female footballers back up their qualification for the last European Championships with a well-earned space on the world stage.

“We know that people are behind us but, for us, the achievement isn’t just getting there, we are all going there to do well. In the past, with the Euros, just getting there was good but in the past couple of games we have shown that we can do well against better teams and teams that are ranked above us and I think we will go there with no fear.

“We obviously know we have got a really hard group, statistically the toughest group, but Scotland never seem to have it easy. The good thing about that is we go in as underdogs and we can just play our own game.

“We have always known ourselves what we are capable of and we take each game as it comes. We relish playing against teams who are ranked above us because we know we are tactically sound and we know we have technically some of the better players.

“We have Kim Little and Erin Cuthbert who are unbelievable at the moment and we have players who are playing in a top league, down in England, playing every week and against top players.

“Erin is up for PFA Young Player and Player of the Year so that shows how good a season some of the players are having and that gives all the team confidence because we know that we have quality players who are in form heading into the championships.”

Blighted by injuries to key performers ahead of the Euros, so far they have carried more luck.

Form is favourable and confidence is high, collectively and individually and for that Alexander is counting her blessings.

A candidate for the Young Player of the Year as well as Player of the Year, Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert has already been named in the team of the league down south and could yet board the plane to France as a Champions League winner.

The 20-year-old netted a 72nd-minute goal in the first leg of the semi-final against Lyon, reducing their opponents’ lead and giving the London side something to chase when they host the second leg this afternoon.

If she could go on to win the trophy, the youngster from Irvine would become only the second Scot to do so. The only compatriot to do so in the past was Julie Fleeting, who bagged the Uefa Women’s Cup, as it was known at the time, with Arsenal in 2007.

“I wouldn’t be surprised, if they do it, no,” said Fleeting, who is a Uefa Women’s World Cup ambassador. “I’ve seen highlights of the first game and the fact that Erin scored to make it 2-1 means they are very much still in the tie and to have this game back in London means anything can happen. They have great players within their squad, some of the best in Europe so I wouldn’t be surprised if they went through and I would be over the moon for Erin if she could play in the cup final. She deserves it.”