Toni Duggan’s Olympic dream is a step closer to reality after confirmation a British women’s team will bid to qualify for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
The four home nations this week brokered a deal to allow Phil Neville’s Lionesses to attempt to reach the Olympics on behalf of Britain through the 2019 World Cup.
England need to finish as one of Europe’s top three sides in France next summer to qualify, which would see them take part in an overseas Games for the first time.
Liverpool-born Barcelona star Duggan missed out on the only-ever women’s football side to wear Team GB colours at London 2012, with the striker placed on standby and not called up by Hope Powell.
After Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales elected not to take part in Rio 2016, Duggan is elated her long wait to become an Olympian may finally be over.
“I’m very excited,” said the 27-year-old.
“I was unfortunate to miss out and be so close yet so far at London 2012.
“It’s always something that’s played on my mind, being an Olympian, so hopefully we get there do the job at the World Cup.
“I’d love nothing more than to go to Tokyo.”
For now, the World Cup is uppermost in the minds of the Lionesses, having secured qualification in August with a 3-0 win over Wales.
Duggan, part of the England side that surged to third in 2015, has emerged as one of the women’s games most established stars since the last World Cup.
The former Manchester City forward knows next year’s tournament is an opportunity for her to prove on the biggest stage of all exactly how much progress she’s made.
“I think you judge players and managers on how they perform at World Cups,” she said.
“We’ll be playing against the best players in the world, from different cultures and backgrounds, so to test yourself against them is the pinnacle.
“Our journey really starts now. It’s going to be a long one but that’s the incentive.”
England Women face Brazil in an international match at Notts County FC’s Meadow Lane Stadium on 6 October (KO 12.30pm). Tickets £10 Adults/£1 Concessions at www.thefa.com/tickets
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