Beth Mead says England squad are loving life under Sarina Wiegman

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Arsenal forward Beth Mead claims she has never been happier in the England camp than she is under current head coach Sarina Wiegman.

The Lionesses, unbeaten in 11 games since Wiegman replaced Phil Neville last September, will bid for their first major trophy at next month’s European Championships on home soil.

Mead has been in prolific form for her country, scoring 12 goals in her last 10 appearances, including hat-tricks in World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland, Latvia and North Macedonia.

When asked after a training session at St George’s Park if it was the best England set-up she had been involved in, the 27-year-old said: “Yeah I would say so.

“We’re a big family, the culture has been amazing. The enjoyment, I think you can see on and off the pitch, it’s been great between us.

“The staff, everybody involved. It’s always an honour, but it’s been a pleasure to be here. It makes your job a lot easier when you’re enjoying it as much as we are right now.”

Wiegman has been tasked with taking the Lionesses to the next level after semi-final exits at their last three major competitions – the 2015 and 2019 World Cup finals and the Euros in 2017.

Sarina Wiegman is unbeaten in 11 games as England Women head coach
Sarina Wiegman is unbeaten in 11 games as England Women head coach (Tim Goode/PA)

Mead has enjoyed a stellar season for the Gunners and cited Wiegman as a major factor in her prolific form for England.

“I think, for me, I’ve known where I’ve stood, what she’s expected of me,” Mead said. “She’s given me a lot of confidence on the pitch and on the training pitch.

“It’s just been easy for me to go on the pitch and do what I know I can do and have the backing of my manager.

“I would say I’ve been a lot more free. The expectation she has for me, I understand a lot more than probably in the past.”

The Lionesses are under pressure to reach the Euro 2022 final at Wembley on July 31 after their heart-breaking last-four defeat to eventual World Cup winners USA in France in 2019.

But Mead is relishing the build-up towards friendlies against Belgium, next Thursday, the Netherlands (June 24) and in Switzerland (June 30) before the Lionesses’ Euro opener against Austria at Old Trafford on July 6.

She said: “It’s a different style, different managers. Under Phil it was very much hard work and now we’re just on the pitch enjoying our football and the hard work comes with that. It’s part of our DNA.

“Everyone just feels free, in a good head-space, and we’re just really enjoying being here.”

England have won nine of Wiegman’s 11 games in charge, scoring a remarkable 72 goals while conceding two, but the former Netherlands midfielder – currently on a week-long leave after a “close family bereavement” – is still not satisfied.

Mead added: “Sarina is keeping us on our toes and she’ll always expect more. No team is perfect, but she’s striving for perfection and that’s what we want as well.”

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