England forward Nikita Parris ready to ‘re-ignite’ career at Man Utd

·4-min read

Nikita Parris believes her England exploits in recent days show the confidence boost she has received since joining Manchester United from Arsenal, where she did not feel “valued”.

Parris came off the bench on Saturday to notch the Lionesses’ second goal as they sealed World Cup qualification with a 2-0 away win over Austria, and was then on the scoresheet again, having started, when the team completed their Group D campaign by thrashing Luxembourg 10-0 in Stoke on Tuesday.

They were the first international goals in a year for the forward, who got two late cameos as a substitute during England’s triumphant Euros campaign in July.

Parris scored her first England goal for a year against Austria on Saturday (John Walton/PA)
Parris scored her first England goal for a year against Austria on Saturday (John Walton/PA).

A few days after the tournament Parris signed for United to end an Arsenal spell that saw her score one goal and start only five times in a total of 18 Women’s Super League appearances for Jonas Eidevall’s side in 2021-22.

The 28-year-old former Manchester City and Lyon player said: “It was a tough year for me, Arsenal didn’t really pan out how I wanted it to.

“But over the couple of weeks I’ve been at a new club, under a new manager (Marc Skinner), he’s given me so much freedom to express myself, both on and off the pitch. He’s just put confidence in me and I think you’ve seen that this camp.

“There has been inconsistency in my game and I think that’s obviously down to game time.

“It’s so much harder to find consistency when you don’t have consistent game time, to try to find your form, especially when you’re not playing back-to-back games – you’re playing one game, then you might be on the bench, then coming on for 10 minutes another game.

“In Lyon I played almost every game, whether I started or I came (on), and I scored goals, and I did at Man City. It just didn’t work out at Arsenal and I can’t tell you what happened, but obviously going forward that’s not what I want.

“I think for me, it was about changing my context. I couldn’t stay in a position where I didn’t feel I was valued, and also I didn’t feel like I could get the best out of myself.

“I did that by moving – sometimes you have to move in order not to plateau and re-ignite yourself.”

Parris scored only one WSL goal for Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA).
Parris scored only one WSL goal for Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA).

Parris, who has 17 goals for England and was the WSL’s record scorer when she left City for Lyon in 2019, described the year wait to score again for her country as “way too long”, adding: “That’s not what I want in football, I want to be scoring goals, creating goals. But ultimately that’s in the past for me now and I’m looking forward.”

Parris has next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand firmly in her sights and, asked about her place in Sarina Wiegman’s England squad, she said: “I do feel a part of it, Sarina has always kept me involved, throughout the qualification stage, and at times in the Euros.

“Ultimately, I didn’t find enough consistency at club level to really stake a claim at the Euros for a starting place, but going forward, hopefully I can do that.

“I know my qualities as a player, I’ve scored goals both home and abroad, and that’s not something I shy away from. For me, it’s just about getting consistency, game time and confidence.”

Parris struck England’s seventh past Luxembourg goalkeeper Lucie Schlime just prior to the hour mark at the bet365 Stadium.

Georgia Stanway and substitute Beth England netted twice each, and there were also goals from Alessia Russo, Rachel Daly, Beth Mead, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp, another substitute, as the European champions completed a clean sweep of victories in Group D on their return to home action.