By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

11th Feb, 2023 | 8:30am

View: Aston Villa Women striker Rachel Daly can lead the line for England at the World Cup

As Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses continue their preparations for the World Cup later this year, questions about Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly’s role in the squad continue to arise.

Despite the likes of Jordan Nobbs, Lucy Staniforth and Maz Pacheco all missing out on spots in England’s 26-player squad for the upcoming Arnold Cup, Villa’s number nine made the cut – but once again as a defender.

After featuring for her country as a left-back throughout the Euro 2022 campaign, Daly’s flexibility is a brilliant tool to tinker with at both club and country levels, but it could also prove to be her downfall for her country.

The thinking of Wiegman is clear for all to see. The England manager wants to field as many of her world-class players as possible, and by playing Daly at left-back, it accommodates room for the likes of Aleesia Russo in attack.

Considering her blistering form in the West Midlands since her summer move from Houston Dash, however, it comes as a surprise that Wiegmann still lists Daly as a defender, with the 31-year-old already netting nine goals in the WSL this season.

Sitting second in the WSL goalscoring charts, above England teammates Russo, Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp, one would presume Daly is the out-and-out centre-forward England should field in the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, The Athletic’s Dan Bardell admitted he thought Daly possessed not just the quality but also the leadership instincts to lead the line for Wiegman’s side in the future.

“I think she will be leading the line for England at the World Cup,” he said.

“I think she has been a sensational signing for Villa, and it has also been a good move for her because it has put her back in the spotlight after her spell at Houston before. So now she is playing in the WSL every single week, she’s scoring goals and leading the line as well, so I think there’s a great chance she could be the Lionesses’ number nine in the near future.

“There’s a space there for a centre-forward after Ellen White retired, so there’s an opportunity for someone to step into her shoes and play as the number nine for England. Daly is the second-top scorer in the league and absolutely flying at Villa as well as showing a lot of leadership.

“She’s also got that experience, which I think you need in major tournaments to be successful.”

With upcoming matches against Korea Republic, Italy and Belgium later this month, it will be interesting to see how Wiegman sets up her attack amid Daly’s stunning form.

For now, all the Villa striker can do is continue her purple goalscoring form and force Wiegman’s hand. With a favourable run of fixtures against Brighton, Everton, West Ham and Leicester awaiting in the WSL, Daly will be looking to stake her claim for the No.9 shirt at the World Cup.

In other Aston Villa news, the club are set to revive interest in an Athletic Bilbao player in the summer after a failed January swoop.