TVNZ FC: Abby Erceg's return a boost for Football Ferns, coach says 'time is tight' as World Cup looms

Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni says time is tight for his team's preparations for the World Cup.

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The Football Ferns coach joins Chris Chang and Simon Plumb as our weekly football show returns for 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ferns will play in France in June and July but after dark days in NZ Football last year, the preparation schedule has got off to a late start, he says.

"There's usually never enough time," Sermanni says.

"In this case, obviously time is tight and because of circumstances last year which kind of saw the programme dormant for quite a period of time.

"Ideally, some of the stuff we are doing now would have been ideal to do last year, but it is what it is."

He pointed to a number of positives including the lineup of warmup matches leading into the World Cup, the quality of his players and the fact that many of them have played together for a long time.

And he said today's decision from Abby Erceg to return to international football after a series of conversations was a "big boost" for him and his team.

"It's certainly very positive, it's good to have her back in the fold."

With a small base of players, key players like Erceg are even more crucial for New Zealand than other nations, he says.

As part of his preparations, Sermanni has been on a fact-finding mission overseas and caught up with counterparts in Europe, including England women's coach Phil Neville.

He sees all the games in the Ferns' World Cup group, against the Netherlands, Canada and Cameroon, as competitive with no standout favourites and everyone believing they can win games.

Speaking on weekly football podcast TVNZ FC, he also saluted the efforts of Phoenix coach Mark Rudan, who he has known for 25 years and who has taken the Wellington-based club to fifth in the A-League.

And he praised Man United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has got off to a flyer at the English giants.

He gave his analysis of how Solskjaer has turned things around at Old Trafford, saying the previous atmosphere under Jose Mourinho had become negative and confidence had eroded leading to players "protecting themselves" and playing without enthusiasm.

Now the environment has brightened leading to six wins in a row, but he warned: "The honeymoon won't last forever".