‘We’re ready to go’ says England boss ahead of Euro 2022 opener

·4-min read

Sarina Wiegman described England as “really ready to go” on the eve of the team kicking off their bid for home European Championship glory.

The Lionesses take on Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford on Wednesday in the opening match of this month’s showpiece.

Wiegman’s side have beaten Belgium 3-0 at Molineux, Holland – who she oversaw winning Euro 2017 on home soil – 5-1 at Elland Road, and Switzerland 4-0 in Zurich in warm-up matches in the past few weeks.

And the manager told a press conference on Tuesday: “We’re just really ready to go.

“The real preparations for the Euros started on May 30 and we just work from week to week, and from training match to training match.

“After the Switzerland game, we came back, had a little time off and then we started training to get ready for the match tomorrow. And you can feel that everyone’s really ready. We just want to go.”

Wiegman reported that all 23 members of her squad were available for Wednesday’s contest and said of her starting line-up: “It’s not finalised yet, we always do it after the last training session, but yes, it is hard.

“We have shown we have a very good squad, with depth, and it’s really good that we have to make hard choices.”

A notable feature of the warm-up games was an impact being made by substitutes and players brought in amid changes to the starting XI.

The matches also saw skipper Leah Williamson play both in midfield and defence and Wiegman said, when asked about what she had learned from the warm-ups on that front: “I learned a lot from the last three games, and from earlier games we played, and I think she can play in both, in midfield and in defence.”

Williamson, sat alongside Wiegman at the press conference, said: “For me, tomorrow, to get out on the pitch playing for England is enough. I’ll do whatever I need to do for the team.”

The Arsenal player, named as England’s captain for this tournament in April, said she was feeling “very proud” ahead of the opener and that she was “sure, when I look back, it will be a moment I’ll want to remember forever.”

She added: “We’ve put in the work over the last however many weeks, and we’ve ticked the boxes so to speak that we needed to tick, but also knowing how big a moment tomorrow is. But also the summer, we know what it is, what to expect and we’re ready for it.

Leah Williamson during a press conference
Leah Williamson will captain England (Nick Potts/PA)

“I think everybody’s got their own things in place now to be able to deal with it and pressure is a privilege. It’s something we’re embracing. That comes with it, that’s part of the job, but it doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy it at the same time.

“We’re not robots, there’s going to be nerves. We’re aware of the expectation. But from within the camp it’s all about the excitement of it and enjoying it, and this is my job – if I wasn’t ready for tomorrow, if I wasn’t allowed to enjoy it, why would I do it?”

Williamson also said of England being hosts: “Sarina’s had experience with that and that’s something she wants us to embrace as well.

“It’s maybe something we’ve not been that good at in the past, but we’re loving the fact there will be 77,000 there tomorrow and most of them will be there for us. Of course it’s an advantage. We’re at home and we intend to use it as much as possible and embrace that.”

England – unbeaten in 14 matches under Wiegman, with 12 of those victories – face an Austria outfit ranked 13 places below them at 21 in the world, who they beat 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier at the Stadium of Light in November.

Matches then follow against Norway and Northern Ireland, who play each other at St Mary’s on Thursday.

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