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England striker Ellen White has been the surprise package of this Women

‘I’m just hoping to be in the right place at the right time’: Ellen White looking to pip USA rivals to golden boot ahead of Women’s World Cup semi-final

  • England striker Ellen White has been the surprise package of this World Cup
  • White was not even a guaranteed starter before the World Cup in France
  • Many thought Phil Neville would prefer Jodie Taylor as his central striker
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When the USA players walked through the mixed zone at the Parc des Princes on Thursday night after their last-eight elimination of France, they found themselves answering questions about one player above all.

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England striker Ellen White – who the Americans will face in Tuesday’s semi-final in Lyon – has been the surprise package of this World Cup, a wonderful vindication of Phil Neville’s faith in a player whose career is enjoying a glorious late bloom.

White was not even a guaranteed starter before the World Cup and many thought Neville would prefer Jodie Taylor as his central striker but as England approach a titanic last-four showdown, White finds herself vying for the Golden Boot.

England striker Ellen White has been the surprise package of this Women's World Cup

England striker Ellen White has been the surprise package of this Women’s World Cup

She has scored five goals at this World Cup in four different games, the same as the USA’s Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.

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Morgan, though, scored all five of her goals against the weakest team in the competition, Thailand, in a 13-0 win. On Saturday, White was keen to stress the team effort that had resulted in her goals and insisted that the pursuit of the Golden Boot was an irrelevance compared to the World Cup itself.

She did admit, though, that it would be nice to swap the bronze medal from the 2015 World Cup that hangs near her front door for a shiny shoe on her mantelpiece. The change in her fortunes, she said, has partly come from Neville’s insistence that she plays more as a penalty-box ‘predator’.

Many thought Phil Neville would prefer Jodie Taylor as his central striker as opposed to White

Many thought Phil Neville would prefer Jodie Taylor as his central striker as opposed to White

Many thought Phil Neville would prefer Jodie Taylor as his central striker as opposed to White

‘I did laugh when he said that,’ White said. ‘He’s told me to stop running around as much. It’s about being in the right position to score goals. I used to make unselfish runs to get on the ball. But he wants me in and around the box, and contribute that way.

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‘I always wanted to improve myself, develop and learn,’ White added. ‘[Phil] has helped me in that way and it’s coming to fruition at this World Cup. I’m just hoping to be in the right place at the right time.’

If she can repeat the trick against the USA and help to knock the holders out, that shiny shoe may well be hers.