Rachel Daly believes her goal-scoring form for Aston Villa could see her move into an attacking role for England ahead of next summer’s World Cup.
Daly has played as a striker throughout her club career but is used at left back by Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman. Past England managers have also played Daly in defence while Phil Neville would occasionally use her in midfield.
The Leeds-born forward, who joined Villa in the summer, has three goals in three games and was named player of the month for September.
England’s Rachel Daly was speaking at the Women’s Football Summit presented by EA SPORTS
Daly makes the transition from attacker to defender look easy, but she insists it’s not as straightforward as it looks.
‘You think it’s seamless, it’s not that seamless! It’s a part of my game that I had to develop over the years,’ said Daly, who was speaking at the Women’s Football Summit, presented by EA SPORTS.
‘A lot of managers I’ve come across have all thought I’m versatile and I think in the past it’s been abused rather than used.
Daly has started the season in fine goalscoring form scoring three goals in three games
‘I think over the last three, four, five years, we got to a place where I’ve accepted that that’s my role and it’s something I really enjoy and I have to embrace it rather than see it as a negative.
‘It gives me an opportunity to play in many positions. When I’m playing as a forward I can see the game differently because I think about what it would be like if I was a left back and vice versa.’
Daly was given a brief stint up front in England’s friendly with the Czech Republic but Wiegman could opt to give her more opportunities in next month’s games with Japan and Norway.
It’s ironic that Wiegman has used centre back Millie Bright, Daly’s best friend, as a striker on more occasions during her 23 games in charge.
‘She [Bright] is perfect up there,’ Daly laughs. ‘She’s a target, she’s great in the air, strong. She’s got one of the best strikes I’ve ever seen. She floats into that role quite well but maybe it will be me now instead of her!
The Aston Villa striker is often used as left-back by England manager Sarina Wiegman
‘I think she [Wiegman] knows that’s an option, she sees me there every week and if I keep performing in that position then I’m sure it will maybe be part of her plan in the future.
‘I don’t care where I play, playing for England is the proudest moment of my life every time I step out on the pitch.
‘I say it every time but I will play anywhere. I think it’s something for Sarina and the coaching staff to maybe have something different to look at.’
Daly says she enjoys analysis and studying her own game, traits that would perhaps make her the perfect pundit in the future.
Daly played a key part in the Lionesses run to the Euro title
But many would like to see her and best-mate Bright given their own TV show.
‘Yeah shoutout, tell em! It’s definitely something we’d look to do in the future for sure. We bounce off each other so well and I think it’s quite nice to have people to see our friendship grow and blossom as well.
‘As a footballer, everyone kind of focuses on what you do for work and as a job but don’t actually see the stuff behind the scenes so I think it’s nice that people can see a glimpse of how close we really are.
‘Hopefully we can go on and do something like that together because I don’t think we’ll be parting ways after football.’
Daly, who had spent seven years in America with Houston Dash, admitted moving back to English football was a daunting prospect at first but says she has settled in quickly to life at Villa.
‘I’ve absolutely loved it. I had no expectations really because I’ve not been back in the league for 10 years. It was quite daunting at first moving back, obviously I’d been at the same club for seven years and came back to unfamiliar territory.
‘The girls are incredible, the vibe of the team is brilliant and that’s important for me. We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience and everyone in between.
‘We’re off to a good start and playing for Carla [Ward] was always something that I wanted to do, she’s a brilliant manager and someone that I’ve always followed along the way and wanted to play for. Her philosophies and style of play is something that I enjoy being a part of.’
The 30-year-old is targeting an attacking role at the 2023 World Cup with the Lionesses
Villa, who were promoted to the WSL in 2020, finished ninth last season but the club have plans to progress gradually up the table.
‘Carla and the general manager Lee [Billiard] talked a lot about their three-year plan and it was something I really wanted to be a part of,’ Daly said.
‘We know we’re not gonna finish top three this year but realistically, can we finish top six, absolutely.
‘We’ve signed some really good players and I think you can see from how we’ve started the season off so far, we’ve got a bit about us, we’re hungry. We’re not a team that’s just going to roll over and let people walk all over us.’
Daly is a lifelong Leeds United fan and jokes she will have to pit her childhood team against Villa women in the new FIFA 23.
Women’s club teams have been included in the game for the first time, a step which Daly believes is hugely important in growing the women’s fanbase.
Daly features in FIFA 23 with the WSL and French Division 1 Féminine added to the game
‘I grew up playing the game and you always wanted to be the team you support or the players you look up to so not having a female aspect of that growing up was frustrating.
‘It gives kids a platform now to experience the women’s side, whether that’s little boys, little girls or adults.
‘Little boys especially, they see it and want to start coming to our games. For females, now they are able to have someone to look up to and play with their female player.’
Rachel Daly was speaking at the Women’s Football Summit, presented by EA SPORTS. FIFA 23 sees the FA Women’s Super League and French Division 1 Féminine integrated for the first time and is available worldwide on all platforms now.