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Mark Sampson says England Lionesses are ready to crush Dutch hopes of home glory

Sampson: England Lionesses ready to crush Dutch hopes
By Eurosport

02/08/2017 at 19:26Updated 03/08/2017 at 00:46

England boss Mark Sampson has declared his entire squad "world class" on the eve of their semi-final against Women's Euro 2017 hosts Holland.

And Sampson feels there is no limit to what the Lionesses can achieve after making confident progress through the tournament.

Sampson guided England to third place in the World Cup two years ago but he now has a major final in his sights.

Sampson, whose side have scored 11 goals and conceded just one in their four games so far, said: "I think all of them are world class. If I didn't think that I wouldn't be the manager of this team.

The talent we have got in this team we are completely confident in but, as well as talent, hard work and a learning mindset are incredibly important. I've been around some good sportspeople and these players work as hard as anyone I've ever worked with or seen, and they are obsessed with being the best they can be.

"Now they have got those two skills in abundance, the sky is the limit for this group.

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"We know we have to produce a massive performance to get a result, but I know the players have put the hard work in and done everything they possibly can to prepare for this game.

"It gives you a great sense of confidence to go on the field feeling you have prepared really well and are potentially ready for anything that is going to get thrown at you."

After winning Group D with victories over Scotland, Spain and Portugal, England then marked themselves out as serious contenders by seeing off highly-fancied France in the quarter-finals last Sunday.

They now face a different challenge as they take on the host nation in front of a partisan, sell-out crowd at the 30,000-capacity FC Twente Stadion in Enschede on Thursday.

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Sampson says the atmosphere - in keeping with the mood of the rest of the tournament - is one to be enjoyed rather than be intimidated by.

"I think hostile is a bit harsh on the Dutch fans," said Sampson in response to a question at his pre-match press conference. "I think the Dutch fans have lit up this tournament. They've supported in numbers, every Dutch game has been a sell-out and the sea of orange has been a wonderful sight for any football fan.

"We are really excited about playing in front of a wonderful group of supporters. The Dutch are knowledgeable football supporters - but they want their team to win. Unfortunately for them we've got to disappoint them with that one."

Should they reach Sunday's final, England will face either Denmark or Austria, who contest the first semi-final on Thursday before the Lionesses and Holland play in the prime evening slot.

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Sampson has named the same starting line-up in three of England's games but is forced to make at least two changes against the Dutch with goalkeeper Karen Bardsley injured and midfielder Jill Scott suspended.

Siobhan Chamberlain, who replaced Bardsley in the latter stages against France, is the obvious choice in goal but Sampson is keeping Holland guessing over who fills in for the experienced Scott.

He said: "Jill's a wonderful player. She'd be a loss, not just for England, but for any team.

"But if there was any team that was going to lose Jill Scott and still feel completely confident, it would be this English team.

"Whoever steps into the job - whether it be a structure change or a personnel change - we feel confident in their ability to get the job done."