By Megan Armitage
Beth Mead's resilience is rubbing off on her teammates and can fire Arsenal back towards silverware this season, reckons former Lioness Laura Bassett.
Bassett, 39, played in two World Cups and three European Championships during a glittering career and has loved watching Mead, the current Ballon d’Or runner-up, sparkle for both club and country.
Arsenal are undefeated in the WSL and have also enjoyed success in the Champions League with victories over Lyon and Zurich.
And former Gunner Bassett says the hunger shown by Mead, who won her 50th England cap in the Lionesses’ 4-0 win over Japan on Friday before pulling out of the squad due to ‘family circumstances’, is a pivotal asset for Jonas Eidevall’s team as they bid to banish last season’s demons.
Bassett, who earned 63 caps between 2003 and 2017, said: "Young players can learn a huge lesson from Beth in terms of mentality.
"Your football journey is going to be up and down but it's how you react to it. Beth's inner strength and belief has been brilliant.
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"I played against her when she was at Sunderland, and you could just tell that she was a young player with bags of talent and a great finisher.
"She's a great example of when you don't get picked for a tournament or a team, you can come back with even more hunger.
"And that Arsenal fighting spirit comes from those personalities in the team.
"Arsenal didn't win anything last year and that would have hurt them. They did qualify for Europe but in terms of the cups and league they just missed out.
"That as a player and a team drives you on."
Rivalling Arsenal are WSL title holders Chelsea, who currently sit second in the table.
Emma Hayes' side have continued to prove their credentials this season, with Lauren James – sister of Chelsea and England men’s star Reece – sparkling up front.
Bassett had a brief stint with Chelsea in 2014 and believes 21-year-old James, who made her senior England debut against Japan, has always been a talent deserving recognition.
Bassett, speaking as an ambassador of ‘Pitching In’ alongside Stuart Pearce at the launch of the grassroots investment programme’s flagship sponsorship of Camden Town Women, added: "I think Lauren is an extremely talented young player and this season, it's not a late break out for me, we just needed to give her that time and space.
"We need to learn that when we can't put that pressure on young players, we need to let her grow organically.
"And I think she's showing that now, with Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby, she's on their level already and that's what top players do."
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