RACHEL CORSIE hopes 12 months of injury disruption will finally be laid to rest when Scotland play England in the opening Euro 2017 Group D match in Utrecht tonight.
The 27-year-old from Aberdeen plays in central defence for her club Seattle Reign, but is expected to sit in front of the back four at the Stadion Galgenwaard in a 4-1-4-1 formation. She injured her knee last July, only returning to football in January – and ever since then has had to sit out several club and international games because of the meniscus problem.
Her last outing was for 45 minutes against Sweden on June 13 and she admitted: “Truthfully it has been a really difficult 12 months. It has felt like it has been one thing after another. But there have also been a lot of positive things.
“The start of the year was a turning point after knee surgery. It has been a case of managing it and I’ve had a really good four weeks preparation.”
Corsie was just 21 when, with Gemma Fay on the bench, she was handed the captain’s armband for a game against England in 2011. It was a Cyprus Cup match in Nicosia, and resulted in a rare 2-0 win for the Scots.
“Captaining the side against England is something I’ll always remember,” Corsie, who is also a qualified chartered accountant, said. “It was the first time for 30 years we’d beaten them.”
The scorers that day, Kim Little and Jen Beattie, count among Corsie’s closest friends but neither is in the Netherlands with the squad. They are among four players out with injury, while a fifth, Hayley Lauder, has not recovered from a hamstring injury and will not play tonight either.
Little has an ACL injury and Corsie said: “Kim called me the day it happened at (Arsenal) training. We are close, and I was upset as her friend more than anything.
“Kim has already achieved so much, and is still young enough to be able to achieve more in the future. She’s had an extremely positive outlook since it happened, and that’s a credit to her.
“We’ve been in contact probably every day since. It’s nice that I can still support her, and she can still support me and the rest of the team as well.”
Had Corsie not suffered her own ACL agony in 2012, Scotland might well have qualified for Euro 2013 instead of having to wait four more years. She was stretchered off following a robust challenge on Spain’s best player, Veronica Boquete, in the second leg of the play-off for the final place in Sweden.
Even so, the Scots were heading through on away goals until the very last kick of the ball in extra time when Spain squeezed a winner. Almost inevitably, Boquete, who Corsie would have been marking, was the scorer.
The rehabilitation meant that Corsie missed the next game against England two years later, also in Cyprus. It ended 4-4 and the sides haven’t played since.
That point was emphasised by the England head coach, Mark Sampson, last night. He replaced the long standing Hope Powell in the aftermath of Euro 2013 when the English failed to get out of the group after finishing runners up in the tournament four years earlier.
“We’re aware of what a big game this is for both teams,” he said. “A lot has been made of the fact it’s a Scotland versus England game, the oldest fixture in international football. I haven’t been involved in this game before, and nor have some of the players, so I’m excited to join that club.
These games used to happen quite a lot, both from the men and the women, but not so much nowadays even although the men played last month.”
Sampson claimed to be unaware of the extent of Scotland’s injury problems, but he said of Little: “Kim is an excellent player. It’s disappointing for the tournament she’s not here.
“But Scotland have got some good players, trust me. As far as I’m concerned, with the talent they’ve got they shouldn’t be at a major tournament for the first time.
“They should probably have been at the 2015 World Cup and the 2013 Euros. Now they’re here I’m sure they’ll be looking to qualify for the quarter finals.”
Corsie knows most of the England players personally as she played for a season at FA Women’s Super League club Notts County in between five hugely successful years as Glasgow City captain and her move to Seattle in 2015.
“Mark has done a fantastic job,” she pointed out. “I know their players have big ambitions for this tournament. That’s a credit to the work they’ve put in over the last four years.
“The game will be extremely challenging. England are confident and have a lot of belief in what they can do. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s something we’re ready for and we’re really excited. It’s an opportunity for us to show what we can do as well, and we believe in our ability.”
Source : HeraldScotland