Former England star Karen Carney believes the Lionesses must nullify the threat of Nigeria striker Asisat Oshoala if they are to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
England face the African champions in a last 16 clash at Brisbane Stadium on Monday, with a place in the final eight at stake.
And Carney, who won 144 caps for her country, has singled out Barcelona forward Oshoala as Nigeria’s standout performer.
“She is a top quality striker who is more than capable of pulling something out of the bag,” said Carney.
“I expect Nigeria will have big hopes, so we can’t rest on our laurels. Despite England’s good performance against China, Nigeria are a top nation that will cause problems.”
Oshoala, a five-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year, scored Nigeria’s winner in their final group game against hosts Australia.
Although that is her only goal so far, Carney believes the 27-year-old’s pace and power make her a constant threat.
“They have a world-class striker and individual players that will be difficult for us,” she added. “They are fighters and they fear no-one.”
After unconvincing displays in their opening two matches, England exploded into life by thrashing China 6-1 last week.
Teenager Lauren James scored twice in that match, and Carney has praised the Manchester United forward’s emergence on the global stage.
“We’ve all known about her talent and ability. It was just about when the opportunities come for the rest of the world to see what we’ve known for a long time,” said the former Chelsea winger.
England deployed a new 3-5-2 system against China after injury ruled out midfielder Keira Walsh.
And Carney believes the tactical switch could give the Lionesses unpredictability heading into the knockout rounds.
“I’d like to see us build momentum with this formation,” she said. “You want your opponent to think long and hard when they see your team sheet and wonder what you might do.”