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A year on from her Olympics disappointment, Beth Mead is preparing for a home Euros feeling she has been in the finest form of her career – and can produce even better.
The Arsenal winger was among the notable players not included by Hege Riise in the Great Britain squad for last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Mead has bounced back in some style, going on to register 11 goals and eight assists across Arsenal’s 2021-22 Women’s Super League campaign and score 12 times in 10 England appearances.
Having earlier this week been confirmed as part of the Lionesses’ provisional squad for this summer’s Euros named by Sarina Wiegman, the 27-year-old told the PA news agency: “I think the season has probably been, for club and country, the best form I’ve been in in my career, and I’ve been feeling great.
“I’ve channelled the negative energy into positive energy from last summer through this season, and long may that continue.
“I’m super happy with how my season has gone, but I still want to do better, still think I can do better and still think I have a lot more to give. So hopefully I can show that in this Euros.
“I’ve got a great buzz and energy around the tournament. I kind of didn’t want the season to finish because of the form I’d been in, so I guess I just need to get back into a rhythm now and hopefully, if selected in the squad and in the games, I can put on those performances and help the team.
“(After) my disappointment of last year, I had the chance to rest, recover, switch off and then come into pre-season and play the best football I’ve played.
“I’ve been lucky enough that the likes of Jonas (Eidevall, the Arsenal manager) and Sarina have given me the confidence – they’ve started me in big games, and I’ve performed in them. Also my team-mates have been great, so it isn’t all down to me. But I’ve been in a free and confident headspace recently.”
While Mead has enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes on the international front, there was further frustration for her Arsenal team-mate Jordan Nobbs, who missed out on Wiegman’s 28-player selection after sustaining a knee injury earlier this month.
The midfielder was another not included by Riise for the Olympics, and had previously been ruled out of the 2019 World Cup by injury.
Mead said: “I’m one of Jordan’s close friends, I took it just as bad as her I think. I think anyone who knows Jordan knows how much of an amazing person and footballer she is, and she’s had a lot of bad luck around injuries.
“It’s going to be a difficult period for her, but myself and all the other girls will be behind her. I’m super gutted for Jordan and hopefully she can recover well and come out fighting next season.”
Mead has also described Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, named by Wiegman as England’s captain for the Euros, as “a great leader”.
And she said of Steph Houghton, the skipper for the last three major tournaments who has made the 28 as she continues to recover from Achilles surgery: “She is an amazing role model for myself and a lot of other people, and she’s someone we want in our squad. It’s great she gets the opportunity to come away, train and prove to Sarina why she deserves to be in that squad (when it is cut down to a final 23).”
Asked about England’s prospects at the showpiece on home soil, Mead added: “Obviously our main goal is to win the tournament.
“We know the competitiveness, the countries involved – it’s going to be very, very tough. But we believe in our ability and we just can’t wait to go in.”
Mead was speaking as she helped launch McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which will provide over one million five-to-11-year-olds the opportunity to enjoy free football coaching in the UK over the course of the next four years.
And she said: “I think it’s amazing from McDonalds to be providing this initiative for kids to have free access to play football and feel comfortable in a really safe environment.
“Fingers crossed this summer goes really well and the Euros has an impact on girls and boys and makes them want to be involved in the game more.”
:: McDonald’s Fun Football is offering one million kids access to FREE football over the next four years as part of the largest grassroots football programme in the UK. Start your kids football journey by visiting McDonalds.co.uk/Football