Wales Women set for 'huge occasion' against England

England Women beat Wales in their previous Group 6 encounter
England Women beat Wales in their previous Group 6 encounter
Wales v England - Fifa Women's World Cup Qualifier
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: 21 August, 19:05 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Three and BBC Radio Wales

Striker Helen Ward says Wales Women can take real confidence from their form when they face England in their World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on Thursday.

England top Group 6, having won all eight of their games, but Wales in second are also in fine form.

"Wales and the girls have been on a fantastic run," said Ward, who misses the game as she is pregnant.

"This calendar year they're unbeaten at the moment so there's a lot of emphasis on this game."

Ward, Wales' record scorer with 32 goals from 54 games, says her team-mates have worked hard to get to second in the group and must make the most of their chance to pressure England.

Wales have not lost a Group 6 match since their 2-0 defeat to England in October 2013, winning five and drawing one.

"Had they not done so well it would have become a little less important I suppose, but with everything up for grabs it makes it a huge occasion for both teams," Ward said.

"Being a home game for Wales it's going to make a big difference, they're hopefully going to have a big crowd behind them and teams don't find it easy coming to play against us at home.

"The girls... go into the game full of confidence but... England are on a fabulous run themselves, haven't conceded many goals and have scored plenty.

"It's going to be a tough test, no doubt, but I know the girls well and I know they'll be up for it and I know the manager [Jarmo Matikainen] will have them set up to get the result they need."

England's five-point lead at in Group 6 makes them overwhelming favourites to top the pool and claim an automatic place for the World Cup finals whatever their result at Cardiff City Stadium as they face bottom side Montenegro in their last game.

Wales have a much harder task, ending their pool campaign away on 17 September to Ukraine, who are just three points behind them in third.

The four runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups go into the play-offs for the remaining Uefa berth for the finals in Canada.

"Ukraine have already lost twice to England so if the girls can get a result [against England], whether it's a point or three points, that puts them one step ahead of Ukraine going into the final fixture," Ward said.

"Ukraine away is always going to be tough and I think the top place for Wales is out of their hands even if they did win tonight. England only need to go and get a point in their last game.

"That second place is up for grabs and if they can get something against England then that really sets them up well for the game next month in Ukraine."

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