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Leah Williamson: Australia is ‘toughest test’ for England at World Cup

(Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images)

Leah Williamson is proud of everything England has accomplished so far at the 2023 World Cup.

While the Lionesses’ captain and star defender is missing the tournament due to an ACL tear, she has kept a close eye on the squad during its run to the semifinal round, she told Christen Press and Tobin Heath on their World Cup podcast “The RE-CAP Show.”

“When I look, I’m proud of the environment that’s been created there,” she said. And even though she knows that she has had a hand in it, there is a small part of her that feels as though the team’s run has “nothing to do” with her.

“Obviously I know that I’ll have played a part in that however small or large that be,” she said. “But also I feel it’s weird, it’s like I’m watching … It has nothing to do with me. If they win, it will have absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s that group of players that have found a way.”

That doesn’t stop Williamson from feeling “so proud” of her teammates.

“I want them to win,” she said. “Like I said before the tournament, I’d give my other ACL if it meant winning.”

Still, she would still love to see more goals being scored by the Lionesses, who have scored 10 goals in five matches so far — but six of those in one match against China in the group stage. That’s the last tweak she would like to see from the Lionesses as they head into the final stretch of the tournament.

“But the resilience, I think our stability as a team and how we’ve adapted,” she said, noting that despite losing players to injury before and during the tournament, the team has remained “rock solid.”

“It fills me with, ‘OK, let’s go and win!'” she continued. “But yeah, I just want to see them being closer together, a bit higher up and figuring out with a change of formation.”

The stakes get higher as the World Cup progresses, and she’s excited to watch the team play Australia.

“[Australia is] arguably the toughest test because I think it’ll bring out the best in our girls as well,” she said. “I know they’re sort of on fire and I do believe it’s one of those games you beat the horse in a semifinal you get a major lift going into a final.”