WALES women will have a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” in front of them when they attempt to topple neighbours England and reach the World Cup for the first time.

Victory at Rodney Parade next Friday would guarantee Jayne Ludlow’s side, who have kept clean sheets in all seven pool games to date, top spot in their qualifying group.

Gwennan Harries, a winner of 56 caps for Wales during a six-year international career, remains close friends with several members of the current national squad.

She wholeheartedly agrees with the decision to stage the fixture at the home of Newport County and reckons all the pressure is on Phil Neville’s England.

“I’m more than happy with the game being at Rodney Parade,” said Harries, 30.

“It was so pleasing that the capacity was sold out within 24 hours, which is huge. We’ve never had a crowd this size before.

“It’s not about playing in front of 30,000, for us it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We’ve never been in this situation before.

“We’ve never been in a situation where with one game to go it is in our hands to qualify automatically.

“I don’t think Jayne looked at playing the game at a bigger venue, and rightly so.

“Ninety-nine per cent of people in her shoes would do what she did and look at how to gain an advantage.”

She added: “I think we were under pressure in our last two games, especially the Russia one. The pressure now is on England.

“They are fourth in the world and reach the majority of tournaments, and in the last two they have made at least the semi-finals.

“We were never expected to win the group. If our girls go in with that and the knowledge the pressure is on England then it will help them.”

Reaching next year’s finals in France would put Ludlow’s ladies alongside the class of 1958, who with the likes of John Charles and Ivor Allchurch shone at the World Cup in Sweden.

The closest Harries came to qualifying for a major tournament was in her last game for Wales before injury forced her to retire in 2012.

A 2-1 defeat to Scotland at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli saw Wales miss out on a place in the play-offs.

“I can’t wait for the game,” said Harries. “I’m a bit nervous. I would love to be involved and have the opportunity to play in a game that is so big.

“You always get a good backing in Newport.

“The uplift in the women’s game over the last five years has been quite phenomenal.

“When I was in school I was the only girl that played, now the number of girls playing is growing so quickly.

“Off the back of this the interest and knowledge of the public is better. The popularity shows that people are interested in a way that perhaps they wouldn’t expect.”

She continued: “Girls don’t normally get the platform to be on television.

“It’s important people appreciate how well these girls are doing because 75% of them are still semi-pro.

“England and Russia are professional so to be pushing them like we are is big. It’s a massive achievement to get this far.

“The girls are inspiring more youngsters to believe they can get far in whatever they want to do, including making a living in sport.”

* Harries is part of BBC Two Wales’ coverage of the game next Friday from 7.30pm (kick-off 7.45pm). A documentary about the Wales women team, Women In Red, airs on BBC Two Wales at 10pm the night before and is repeated on game day at 5.30pm.