It says a lot about Alessia Russo’s rise that the main selection dilemma before England’s Euro 2022 semi-final with Sweden appears to be whether she should replace all-time top scorer Ellen White in the starting line-up.
White is likely to start Tuesday’s game against the tournament’s top-ranked team at Bramall Lane but Russo’s performances as a super sub this month have become increasingly hard to ignore.
She is England’s second-highest scorer at the Euros with three goals, despite not starting a game.
She has come off the bench in all four of England’s matches and had a major impact, most notably when she provided the assist for Manchester United team-mate Ella Toone’s equaliser in the quarter-final against Spain.
Having made her debut in 2020, the 23-year-old has scored seven goals in 11 England appearances in total – a particularly remarkable record given she has only started for the national team twice.
Her impact in her first major tournament has been dramatic and, whether or not she starts against Sweden, she is sure to have a key role to play.
Yet while she is only just emerging as a star at this level, those who have known her for years have not been surprised by her rise.