Lionesses on Euro expectation, social media and selection fears

With two weeks until the Women’s Euros kicks off, the Lionesses faced the media at St George’s Park, chatting squad selection, the upcoming tournament plus life inside the camp.

Sky Sports News was front and centre on a busy afternoon to chat to all 23 players after Sarina Wiegman made her squad announcement last week.

Keep reading for all the best bits from St George’s Park from the likes of Fran Kirby, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp and more…

Fran Kirby: I’m gaining energy from being here

“I’m in a really good place. I’m doing all the training now, I’m happy, healthy and I was delighted to get on the pitch the other day, that was really special.

“At the beginning, there wasn’t much frustration because I knew it wasn’t really possible [to make the Euros] when I was going through that period in February time.

“But when I got back into the squad and into training, I didn’t really allow the frustration to get to me, I just thought ‘you’ve got two weeks to show that you can be ready’. I had some really good, honest conversations with Sarina and I just knew that I had done everything in those training sessions leading into the squad announcement. It was a relief to get selected, a happy moment and now the hard works starts.

Fran Kirby returned to action on Thursday
Image: Fran Kirby returned to action in Thursday’s friendly against Belgium

“You can see it as quite a brutal way of finding out whether you’re in the Euros squad [having a one-to-one meeting with Sarina Wiegman], but I think it made it a lot more personable – you get that answer and that communication as to why you’re in and why you’re not and as a player, you want to know these things.

“You’re just sitting and waiting with your phone for a message to go to the meeting room – it was a bit like X Factor judges’ houses – but I sat down and saw her smile then I knew she was going to tell me I was in the squad. You like to think your manager is smiling at you when they tell you that so I was really happy.

“Straight away I was smiling, saying thank you, and it’s been a difficult few months, but she’s kept in constant contact with me to see how I am, how I’m doing and telling me that I’m still a big part of the squad. It gave me the confidence to come into camp feeling good.

Millie Bright: Women’s game has come far but more to go

“It’s fun. It’s something we’ve fought for for a long time in the women’s game so for us to be walking through the streets and see the girls on the billboards, it’s incredible.

“It shows again how far we’ve come in the women’s game and what we deserve. It’s mainly excitement but also again what’s to come in the future. We’ve got to keep pushing.

“I just want to help the team as much as I can. Everyone wants to be able to put the ball in the back of the net and as a group, we don’t want to rely on individuals, we collectively want to be able to contribute.”

“Each week, I’m feeling better. I’m gaining a lot of energy from being here and each training session, I feel like I have more to give. I don’t think it’ll be too long until I’m at that place again, I’m in a good place right now, fitness-wise.

“Coming on the other day [against Belgium] and I wasn’t puffing too much so that was really nice. I’m in a good stop and I just want to keep building. I don’t feel out of place so that’s nice.

“This [the media day] is what these girls deserve. Not just the girls here, but the girls who strived so hard many years ago – some of them may have retired now – who worked so tirelessly to grow the media attention. It’s a reward for everyone’s hard work.”

Ellen White: Fans will see the passion we have for England

“It’s a pretty good squad! It’s exciting. Sarina definitely had a headache, but I’m super proud of this squad. I feel super lucky to be in this squad, to be selected and be surrounded by the talented players here. For all of us, we’re excited and just want to get going, we’ve been in camp for four weeks and we can’t wait.

“First and foremost, all our group games are sold out, which is blowing our minds that so many people want to come out and support us and watch women’s football. It’s going to be a crazy tournament and hopefully everyone is going to be supporting.

Leah Williamson: Girls have supported me as captain

“I hope they’ve responded well [to Williamson being captain]. I want to be someone that is open to that feedback and I’ve got people in the team that would tell me if things weren’t right or they weren’t what they expected.

“All the girls have been great, they’ve supported me. I hoped that would be the case but everyone is the same and that’s all I’ve ever asked for.”

“The players and talent on show is going to be insane and we want to make the country proud. We hope that watching us play, you’ll see the passion and love we have playing for England.”

When asked if Steph Houghton will be supporting the team after her omission from the squad, White added: “Of course. What she’s done for England, the leader that she is, the person that she is, she’ll be cheering us on the whole time. I love her to pieces.”

Lauren Hemp: When I enjoy my football, you get the best from me

Is it the summer of Lauren Hemp? The forward said: “It’s nice to be recognised as that, but for me, I’m my worst critic and I put pressure on myself all the time so I don’t necessarily feel it from the outside.

“This is going to be a fantastic tournament, we’ve got a fantastic group of players, amazing background staff as well. I’m really excited for it, you can feel the vibe around St George’s Park and how much everyone is looking forward to it.

“The fans should be really excited and they are because all our games are sold out, which is great to see. They’re in different locations so we’re attracting fans from across the country which is fantastic. All the girls here are excited and I hope the fans are as well.

“As much as it is important that we put pressure on ourselves and we make sure that we continue to keep improving, it’s also important to sit back and realise how far this England team has come, enjoy the journey.

“For me personally, if I enjoy it, you’ll get the best out of me. That’s the same for everyone else as well so it’s an exciting time coming up and we’re going to make sure we’re as best prepared as we can be coming into the Euros.”

Kiera Walsh: We turn attention into positives

“When the squad was announced, naturally there is going to be more pressure but Sarina and the rest of the staff do a good job at taking the pressure off us.

“The relaxed atmosphere is what we have all the time. She puts an emphasis on us just enjoying it can you can see that in training and the games we’re playing.

“It’s a massive tournament for us, we know there’s going to be a lot of people watching and all eyes on us and we try and turn that into a positive.

“We take it as an exciting thing, we want to impress and we want to play an attractive style of football. We want to make the nation and the fans proud.”

Nikita Parris: Sarina couldn’t gauge anything from me!

“I don’t think she could gauge anything from me because my head was looking at the floor as I went in, I was so nervous. She said to me ‘I’ve never seen you so stiff Nikita!’. She asked me how I thought the camp had gone and I said ‘I’m not too sure’. Then she said she would ease my mind and I was like ‘thank God!’.

“A home Euros speaks for itself. It’s such a momentous occasion for all of us and to be selected in the 23 is a huge honour and I’m so happy to be able to say that I’ll be competing.

“Through the whole season, there has been ups and downs. Every time I’ve put on an England shirt, I’ve scored, I’ve assisted, but then you just don’t know. The whole day was very emotional.”

Nikita Parris
Image: Nikita Parris also spoke about how social media might be used by the players this summer

Parris was also asked about social media abuse after England men’s players experienced it after their Euros final defeat last summer. She said: “Ultimately, social media is about the individual, whether you chose to stay on or not. As a group, we will decide in the coming days whether we will report back what we see on social media.

“Usually, in other tournaments, we haven’t. We’ve said that people on social media, that’s for you to do and keep it out of the team because some players just don’t want to know what’s going on. In tournament time, the pressure is really on and abuse is rife in those moments. Some people can handle it and some people can’t.

“You shouldn’t have to handle it and it shouldn’t be a part of our society, but at this point it is and I hope the social media authorities do something about it.”

Mary Earps: A lot has changed in a year

Mary Earps
Image: Mary Earps is England’s No 1 heading into the Women’s Euros

“It’s an amazing feeling. It makes you appreciate things a lot more. I’ve done a lot of growing up, I’ve been taught some harsh lessons. I’m just loving every minute and trying to make the most of every second.

“It wasn’t a thought, I’d made my peace with it completely [not being in the Euro squad]. I thought I was dead set sure, I was planning for post-career, and then life took an unexpected and fantastic turn. A lot has changed in a year.

“The last year has changed a lot for me personally and I’ve felt a massive surge in interest in the game and it’s moving at an incredible pace. I don’t know what that felt like years prior and if this has been a steady build, but I feel like it’s been a massive incline. If it continues at this rate, it’ll be exponential really. This group is incredibly talented and the future is looking really bright.”

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England striker Beth Mead believes that missing out on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics GB team makes her selection for the England Euro 2022 team even more special!

Earps was also asked about seeing billboards of Man Utd Women players outside of Old Trafford earlier this season, saying: “That was a massive humbling moment. I remember being told they were going on Old Trafford, I didn’t know when and I had media duties that day.

“I went out at the end to see what it looked like and I was blown away by how large it was, I couldn’t believe it. The size of it was incredible and the fact they put us on the front of Old Trafford is unbelievable. I don’t think I would ever have anticipated that happening ever. It was a brilliant occasion for women’s sport.

“That’s hopefully where it’ll get to where it’s just so normal and we almost expect these things. There’s still so many firsts happening and that’s the beauty of the game and the journey we’ve been on together.”

Hannah Hampton: Tears showed Sarina what Euros selection meant to me

Hannah Hampton and Leah Williamson
Image: Hannah Hampton described how she told her family she had made the Euros squad

“Last week, I was nervous with how it could go and if you told me I would be here now back in November, I would’ve said absolutely not, but I would’ve taken you on your deal.

“These last few days, you relax a lot more, you show yourself on the pitch more. I enjoyed last week as well but there’s that added pressure to prove yourself and showcase what you’ve got to the manager.

“When Sarina told me, I had tears in my eyes right in front of her so I think she knew what it meant to me. To say my first major tournament is going to be a home Euros is pretty special.

“As soon as I got out with Sarina, I was on the phone [to her family] and crying down it, yelling ‘I’m going to the Euros’. I don’t think one word made sense, I jumbled my words. I think they then gathered from my excitement that I was going so they started yelling back down – it was a great conversation.

“This whole year for me has been big with making debuts, finishing the seasons strongly and now being stood here right now, I haven’t really reflected yet. But once the season’s done and we get some time off, I’ll definitely look back at everything I’ve achieved.

“If you had told me when I was a little girl that I would achieve all this, I probably would’ve started crying in front of you. It’s always very exciting to be a part of and it’s going to be emotional.”

Ellie Roebuck: I’m focusing on enjoying football again

“It’s so exciting. Three years ago, I was the 24th player and went [to the World Cup] for the experience but now, it doesn’t feel real and for it to be a home tournament is very exciting.

“Any injury in football is difficult and after spending a long period of time out, I’m not where I wanted to be coming into the last stage of the season. Hopefully I’ve now put that behind me and focus on enjoying football again, trying to improve myself and focusing on myself, because the bigger picture is a lot bigger for sure.

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Brighton manager Hope Powell believes that Sarina Wiegman has picked a talented squad for Euro 2022, despite not including Steph Houghton

“We’re all just enjoying being on camp, being back together and it’s not that it hasn’t sunk in, but we’re all there, training hard, enjoying ourselves. It’s two weeks until the first game which is crazy to think about, but we’re all in a good place and we’re here having fun and raring to go.”

Georgia Stanway: We want to create something special

“We’ve not massively spoken about it [winning the Euros] because we’re taking each day as it comes. We’ve got friendly games as well so we’re focusing on them and not necessarily how important the opposition is but just on us – what we can do, the work that we can do on the grass to try and put ourselves in the best position we can.

“It’s going to be surreal [at Old Trafford]. The amount of tickets we’ve sold, it’s a sell out and I’m struggling to even sort my family out, but it’s going to be an unbelievable experience.

“First game, home Euros, it’s going to be very surreal. We want to mimic what the men created last summer and build that excitement, build the whole nation and try and create something special.”

Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports

Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.

Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.

They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.

The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.

In addition, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast rom 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line up around the tournament.

Euro 2022: The groups…

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland

Euro 2022: The schedule…

Group stage

Wednesday July 6

Group A: England vs Austria – kick off 8pm, Old Trafford

Thursday July 7

Group A: Norway vs Northern Ireland – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s

Friday July 8

Group B: Spain vs Finland – kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Denmark – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Saturday July 9

Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Sunday July 10

Group D: Belgium vs Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Italy – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Monday July 11

Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s

Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Tuesday July 12

Group B: Denmark vs Finland – kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Wednesday July 13

Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Thursday July 14

Group D: Italy vs Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Belgium – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Friday July 15

Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s

Group A: Austria vs Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Saturday July 16

Group B: Finland vs Germany – kick off 8pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Denmark vs Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Sunday July 17

Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Sweden vs Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Monday July 18

Group D: Iceland vs France – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Group D: Italy vs Belgium – kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Knockout phase


Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Thursday July 21

Quarter-final 2: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Friday July 22

Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium


Tuesday July 26

Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK


Sunday July 31

Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 – kick off 5pm, Wembley