Carly Telford

Carly Telford is determined to establish herself as a mainstay in new England boss Phil Neville’s World Cup plans.

Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford has hailed the decision of the Football Association to play England’s key 2019 World Cup qualifier against Wales at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium.

England last played in Southampton in 2006, beating Hungary 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier with goals from Vicky Exley and Alex Scott – and Telford is hoping for a repeat performance in April.

Telford, who signed a new deal to stay at Women’s Super League side Chelsea back in July, is determined to establish herself as a mainstay in new boss Phil Neville’s World Cup plans.

And the 30-year-old shot-stopper revealed it would be a dream come true to run out at a Premier League ground in April, against Wales.

“I think that when you become a professional footballer, because you’re watching the men all the time, you’re looking to play at those grounds and so it’s a dream,” said Telford.

“Wembley [England played Germany for the first time there in 2014] was a major moment for women’s football, playing at the home of football.

“Now, the FA are trying to look at those Premier League grounds to host these games. Why not?

“Once upon a time, you could argue that we were getting between 1,000 and 5,000 supporters per game but you look now and we’re getting 10,000 or 20,000, or more, depending on where it’s hosted.

“The opportunity’s there to use the bigger grounds, as long as it’s done at the right time and at the right place, and as long as it’s marketed the same way – the FA has done a fantastic job of always doing that.

“The success of the team always helps, too. We still must pinch ourselves to think that many people want to come and watch us, and how many you have watching on TV.

“It just shows how far we’ve come as a nation to really get people interested in the women’s game.”

And Telford has warned her team-mates against complacency when they tackle Wales in Southampton in April.

The Chelsea goalkeeper believes the Welsh squad is full of real quality and singled out skipper and former Chelsea colleague Sophie Ingle as a player to watch.

“I’ve played alongside Sophie Ingle, who’s the captain – I played with her at Chelsea a few years ago, so we know that she’s a very good player and the armband is a huge honour for her,” added Telford.

“I knew back then she was a very good professional and playing at Liverpool with some very good players will have brought her on leaps and bounds.

“I think it’s always one to look forward to when you see that you draw a home nation in your group.

“One, you don’t have to travel very far and two, it makes the rivalry a bit better.

“I think we’ve drawn Wales twice now. We played them in the European qualifiers for the World Cup in 2015. It’s always a good game, a feisty game.

“I think they’re only going to get better and better, so I think the task for us becomes harder as nations try to catch up with us and they invest more into their teams and become more professional.”

England face Wales in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier at St. Mary’s Stadium on 6 April (KO 7pm). Buy tickets (£10 Adult/£1 Under-18) at www.thefa.com/tickets or call 02381 780 780.

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