England’s team spirit has been hailed as one of the main reasons for taking the Lionesses within touching distance of world glory.
And that spirit will be needed to lift England off the floor for one last challenge at the women’s World Cup.
It’s definitely helped, it’s made us into a better teamJILL SCOTT
Mark Sampson’s heroes face Germany tonight in the Third/Fourth place play-off final in Edmonton – less than 72 hours after the heartbreak of their last-gasp defeat to Japan (Kick-off 9pm, live on BBC3).
England lost 2-1 to hosts Japan after defender Laura Bassett’s injury-time own goal in the same Commonwealth Stadium.
Experienced campaigner Jill Scott says Sampson has transformed England tactically and psychologically from a squad who had hit rock bottom at Euro 2013 under Hope Powell.
The Sunderland-born midfielder believed the squad had become stale but Sampson has invigorated and inspired this group of England players.
“We got into a bit of a routine, we would may be say ‘good morning’ but not get into any real conversations,” she said.
“Now it feels as though we’ve got to know each other again and spent more time with each other.
“It’s definitely helped, it’s made us into a better team.
“It wasn’t going to happen overnight, it was always going to take a bit of time.
“Mark’s got that work done off the pitch and Adam, our psychologist, has also worked with us and it has shown on the pitch.”
Finishing third will be a tough call for England, physically and emotionally.
Germany beat England 3-0 at Wembley last November in front of a 45,000 crowd though the Lionesses have improved markedly since then.
And Sampson has challenged them to go out on a high, saying: “I won’t have to get them up for the game. They know we are playing Germany, the greatest team in the history of women’s football, in a World Cup match. For us this is a European final.”