Karen Bardsley believes there is no reason why female goalkeepers could not train alongside male counterparts through the academy years.
The California-born England and Manchester City stopper says she feels it was beneficial for her to have worked with male keepers in college.
The 34-year-old is currently at her third Women’s World Cup with the Lionesses and won her 78th cap in last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Scotland in Nice.
When it was put to Bardsley that in terms of goalkeeping it appeared there should be nothing stopping girls and boys training alongside each other throughout academy development, Bardsley said: “I personally think so.
“We have done it in the past, and to be honest, I think health and safety has kind of stepped in and said ‘you can’t do this.’
“But I did it in the past when I was growing up. I trained alongside some great goalkeepers, I trained with some in college, full-grown men.
“One hundred per cent (it helped me). The speed of play, the reaction speed, the strength. Those sorts of things for me were really, really invaluable, as well as the mindset. I think those things were really, really helpful.”
Bardsley added: “The only difference you will find is the depth. So if you are keeping goal as a male goalkeeper, typically they will play a bit higher.
“They’ll be probably around four to six yards out as opposed to us being around three. But technically, the set positions are all the same.”
Bardsley also feels goalkeeping does not get the respect it deserves, and has spoken of a need for it to be seen as a “sexier position”.
“Techniques are constantly changing, we are always evolving,” Bardsley said.
“I think what we need to continue to do, in terms of changing the perception, is making goalkeeping a sexier position, really getting people that want to play the position.
“Because the constant messages I heard growing up was ‘if you’re unfit, you go in goal. If you’re crap, you go in goal.’
“How do we change that? How do we give goalkeeping more respect?
“Obviously the game’s changed loads. If you look at (Manchester City’s) Ederson and (Liverpool’s) Alisson and the impacts they’ve made coming in, playing out but also being good shot-stoppers, having a presence.
“Those are the things where you I think have to start re-thinking how impactful that position is, as opposed to someone that is just doing custodial duties at the back.”
Bardsley says criticism of goalkeepers “does seem to be something I hear more often in the women’s game” than in the men’s.
She recalls a game in 2014 when England’s Toni Duggan “put the ball absolute top bins” for City against Chelsea, where while “it wasn’t the best effort from the keeper…it still didn’t take away from what Toni did”, and noted reaction that focused on the goalkeeper.
Bardsley said: “That’s a bit disappointing. I don’t see why people can’t praise when they see something done well – even if it is by a woman.
“I’m not here trying to burn a bra or anything and say ‘yeah we need to take over!’
“But one of my most important values is ‘credit where it’s due’, regardless of who it is.
“It does frustrate me sometimes when I see that because I’m like ‘come on! Let’s see you do better.'”
Having come out of the England team for Friday’s 1-0 win against Argentina in Le Havre as Carly Telford was handed her World Cup debut, Bardsley could return on Wednesday when Phil Neville’s side clash with Japan in Nice.