Rachel Daly: Has a versatile player claimed to be England’s No9?

Rachel Daly and Laura Coombs celebrate England's second goal against Italy
Rachel Daly scored twice in her first start in front for England in the Arnold Clark Cup against Italy

Rachel Daly is a headache Sarina Wiegman can’t shake.

Her performances in the England shirt have made her a firm favorite for the Dutchwoman, but the question remains – what is her best position?

For those who follow the Women’s Super League, it’s a no-brainer. Daly is the second-highest goalscorer in the league this season with 10 goals in 13 games for Aston Villa.

That comes after moving from the US in the summer, where she regularly played up front.

But Daly has always been England’s versatile player, performing well at both full-back positions and starting every game at Euro 2022 in defence.

With her impressive form, which she now shows weekly in WSL, and her two crucial goals in England’s 2-1 win over Italyis it time to play them regularly in attack on the international stage?

When asked if Daly is taking her chance, Wiegman told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Yes, I think she is.

“But I also think that we still have very good chances in ninth place and it’s very good that the competition is so big.”

Can Daly and Russo play together?

Rachel Daly replaces Alessia Russo against South Korea
Rachel Daly came on for Alessia Russo in Thursday’s 4-0 win over South Korea

The Lionesses’ record goalscorer Ellen White was the preferred choice at the Euros but since her retirement it’s Manchester United’s Alessia Russo who’s leading the line.

Russo, the target of two world record bids from Arsenal in January, scored in Thursday’s 4-0 win over South Korea before Daly netted a brace against Italy.

With two proven goalscorers in the squad, isn’t it an option to use both together in attack?

“We’ve played a few scenarios where we’ve used two centre-forwards, but right now the way we play, we wouldn’t start with two. The way we’re playing now – we’re doing really well,” added Wiegmann.

“They are both very good strikers, we all know Rachel (Daly) is very versatile so she can play in different positions in our team.”

Daly’s prowess in front of goal doesn’t just come from England’s centre-forwards.

She started at left-back against Luxembourg and at right-back in the draw against Norway, scoring against both. She was also used at left-back in an impressive win over the United States at Wembley.

And Daly likes to play anywhere.

“It doesn’t bother me, really,” she said. “I think you care more about where I play than I do. I’m really happy to play in every role.

“Obviously I play the role (number nine) week in and week out, so it’s a little bit more natural for me. But no matter what role I get, I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”

Former England international Karen Carney said Daly was “an absolute dream” for a manager.

“It’s so versatile,” Carney told ITV, “You get quality in every position, speed of work in every position and reliability in every position.”

“Daly can sniff something out of nowhere”

But after scoring two header goals on either side of a surprise and controversial Italian equalizer, Daly has only strengthened her arguments further.

“That’s why you play her up front,” Carney said after Daly’s winner. “If you give her the ministry, she will not let you down. She’s just a nightmare because she can sniff something out of nowhere.”

Former England striker Ian Wright added: “Rachel Daly is an aerial threat in the box and we’re going to need that because we’ve lost someone as great as Ellen White, so that’s a positive.”

With five months to go before England’s World Cup season kicks off in Australia, ex-England striker Eniola Aluko believes Daly is “making her claim to be number 9” ahead of Russo.

“Alessia Russo is pushing her but it’s really interesting what’s happening in this fight,” Aluko added on ITV. “These are two players who can score goals and play this position really well.

“I was part of the Rachel Daly ‘Up Front Fan Club’ – every time she scores I love to see it.”

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