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Duggan: We want to win the cup

Toni Duggan insists retaining the Cyprus Cup would be ideal preparation for England in a busy year which sees them play six World Cup qualifiers on the road to Canada in 2015.

Last Updated: 05/03/14 at 15:13 Post Comment

Toni Duggan: Hopes England can retain the Cyprus Cup

Toni Duggan: Hopes England can retain the Cyprus Cup

England, who won the annual invitational tournament last year with a 1-0 victory over Canada in the final, begin their 2014 campaign against Group A rivals Italy on Wednesday.

And Manchester City striker Duggan believes the tournament represents an excellent opportunity for England's women to get more accustomed to new manager Mark Sampson's methods.

"I think retaining the Cup has to be our first objective," Duggan told skysports.com. "We play football for a reason - we play football because we want to win.

"As much as it's a friendly tournament we really want to win it as well so we're going into the tournament hoping we can bring the trophy back home.

"It's always nice to meet up with the girls and train in a sunny climate which we don't always get in Manchester.

"But it's just another step along our way. We've got World Cup qualification to try and secure this year.

"That is massively important, so the Cyprus Cup is also good in terms of getting the team spirit going and also to get used to the new manager as well."

Sampson was appointed as the permanent successor to Hope Powell in December and Duggan believes the changes in personnel have been like a breath of fresh air.

"We were only with him in La Manga for a week or so, but that was good," she said. "It's nice to have some new faces in and around the squad and he's obviously brought in people like Marieanne Spacey and Kends (Lee Kendall) the goalkeeping coach as well.

"It's good to have people of that experience around us, so hopefully we can build on that and it all goes well for us."

England number one Karen Bardsley was forced to withdraw from the squad due to a stress-fractured foot and Duggan insists her club and international teammate will be sorely missed.

"It's a massive blow for us," she said. "KB has been the number one for a while now and she's been a great goalkeeper.

"Obviously I work alongside her now at Man City and just to see her professionalism on and off the field every single day is amazing and that is going to be missed.

"We're on the road for two weeks so it's hard when you lose a player if that calibre but we wish her well and I'm sure she'll bounce back."

Meanwhile, Duggan has apologised for dressing up as Whoopi Goldberg's character in Sister Act and painting herself black for a party with England teammates.

A statement from the Kick It Out ambassador read: "I am very sorry for my actions and for any offence I may have caused.

"I would like to apologise wholeheartedly to England, my club and anyone else that I may have offended.

"I am proud to be a 'Next 20' ambassador for Kick It Out and take this role very seriously for an organisation that does such good work."

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