England too focused to absorb excitement surrounding Euros campaign – Mary Earps
Mary Earps insists she has “no doubt” that the country is behind England, despite admitting that the Lionesses have been exposed to little of the fervour surrounding their progress at Euro 2022.
Ahead of their concluding Group A fixture against Northern Ireland in Southampton on Friday, Sarina Wiegman’s side have already qualified for the quarter-finals after pulling off the competition’s biggest ever win with their historic 8-0 thrashing of Norway on Monday.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, are out of their first major tournament after successive 4-1 and 2-0 defeats to Norway and Austria respectively but will be playing for pride against the host nation.
England goalkeeper Earps has not conceded a goal in England’s two matches so far but says it is only around the grounds that the team have witnessed the excitement generated by their bid for European glory.
“Knowing English people I have absolutely no doubt that the country is behind us,” Earps said.
“It’s not something that us as players have really engaged with too much because, to be honest, we’re so focused in our bubble that it’s not something we’re hearing and feeling too much – apart from when we come into the stadium and hear the roars from the crowd, which has obviously been fantastic.
“To be honest, for the first time we’ve really witnessed that in terms of… playing major tournaments away from home you don’t realise how much that can be so much fun and drive you forwards in terms of your engagement in the game and really striving to such a high level of performance and excellence.
“You feel a real responsibility because you want to do that – not only for your team-mates but for the people coming to watch of course.
“But it’s not something that we’re engaging with too much. I have no doubt that everyone at home is doing and we want to do the nation proud as best as we possibly can, and the way that we’re going to do that is performing to a high level and the standards that we’ve set in every game.”
The Lionesses have maintained their unbeaten record under manager Wiegman into the first two games of the tournament, having scored 93 goals in their 16 matches since she took the reins in September 2021.
Against Northern Ireland, Wiegman will focus on consistency rather than rotation as she seeks to maintain her side’s high standards, despite already being assured of progressing to the next stage of the competition.
“I believe in rhythm,” Wiegman said.
“I think when you have nine days in between the Norwegian game and the quarter-finals, that’s too long, I think you need more rhythm and to keep the focus and keep playing.
“So I couldn’t expect lots of rotations. During the game probably, but not before.”
She added: “We have 22 players and we can only let 11 start. We will do what we believe in and give ourselves the best chance to win the next game and, yes of course, some players will be disappointed, but we keep communicating and keep being clear about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”