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Women’s World Cup: Players to watch in the last 16

Women's World Cup: Players to watch in the last 16
The Women’s World Cup last-16 ties will be played between Saturday and Tuesday

With the group stages over, we’re heading for the knockout rounds at the Women’s World Cup in France.

BBC Sport pundit and former England international Alex Scott gives us her top five players to look out for in the last 16, which kicks off with Germany v Nigeria on Saturday at 16:30 BST.

You can follow all the games across BBC TV, radio and online.

Lindsey Horan – USA midfielder

Age: 25; Caps: 71

There are so many standouts in the USA team but for me she’s been that rock in midfield.

You can see her technical quality which she’s got from playing at Paris Saint-Germain and what she offers the midfield is getting them playing forward all the time – and she’s chipping in with goals herself.

Highlights: Sweden 0-2 USA

She’s the number one pick on that team-sheet. You have names like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, and they are important, but I think it all starts from Lindsey and her energy in midfield to get them flowing forward and linking up play.

Hina Sugita – Japan midfielder

Age: 22; Caps: 10

She won player of the tournament at the U17 World Cup in 2017 so the current Japan squad is the progression from them winning that competition.

I was impressed once again with her against England, given how young she is.

She controls her midfield and she’s so technical, and great to watch on the ball. She’s constantly making angled passes and I think she’s got a great future ahead of her in the women’s game.

Sam Kerr – Australia striker

Age: 25; Caps: 80

For me, Kerr came into the World Cup with a lot of pressure. She’s now a poster girl for her goal scoring in the American league as well as the poster girl in Australia.

At the start of the tournament it wasn’t going Australia’s way but she is someone who has stepped up. She scored four in one game and I think she’s living up to the hype.

Highlights: Jamaica 1-4 Australia

Sometimes that pressure can be too much, but she’s thriving and showing everyone on the world stage why she’s a big name. Everyone’s been talking about these players, and you want them to shine on this world stage so they can inspire the next generation and she’s doing it.

Lucy Bronze – England right-back

Age: 27; Caps: 71

In 2015, before the last World Cup, she was kind of unknown but then she hit the headlines in Canada and now everyone knows who she is. That makes it harder because everyone knows your game, so how do you adapt and still have that level?

Lucy’s story has mirrored mine so much it’s unreal! I announced myself in 2007 and then went pro in America, but the next major tournament was so hard to show everyone that I still had that level. My coach took me aside and said ‘now you have to prove why you’re the best’ and we worked on the timing of my runs. That’s what I’m seeing in Lucy.

She’s not going forward at every opportunity. Now it’s waiting to explode into spaces so she’s not easily marked. She’s showing why she’s the best right-back in the world.

Amandine Henry – France defensive midfielder

Age: 29; Caps: 86

I’ve picked a lot of midfielders, haven’t I? But she’s one of the best defensive midfielders in the women’s game, and she’s showing why with her tackling skills and her ability to control the game.

When you look at the team, they have incredible players like Wendie Renard and some of France’s young talent, and with Henry as captain she definitely has that star quality about her.

We saw in the first game that, even though she’s a defensive midfielder, she can score spectacular goals.

An honorary mention for…

I know she can’t be in my top five as they went out but Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler deserves a mention.

When I was playing, Hope Solo was the best goalkeeper in the world. She set the standard and I remember thinking ‘wow, she’s something else’ and being in the studio with Hope watching Endler in the game against the USA, I just thought she’s now the best in the world.

I haven’t seen a goalkeeper who was like Hope, who is reaching that level. She’s out the World Cup but hopefully we’ll see her at the Olympics next year and beyond.

It’s great for the women’s game to have someone with that quality.

Alex Scott was speaking to BBC Sport’s Caroline Chapman.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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