Despite conceding that the Lionesses have not been exposed to much of the fervour surrounding their success at Euro 2022, goalkeeper Mary Earps maintains she has “no doubt” that the country is behind England.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, are out of their first major tournament after successive 4-1 and 2-0 defeats by Norway and Austria respectively, but still have pride to play for, manager Kenny Shiels has insisted.
Sarina Wiegman’s team have already advanced for the quarter-finals following their record 8-0 demolition of Norway on Monday, ahead of their last Group A match against Northern Ireland in Southampton on Friday.
Lionesses stopper Earps is yet to concede a goal at this summer’s finals, but is not getting carried away by early results, knowing there are tougher tests to come if England are to deliver European glory come the end of July.
“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.
“Knowing English people I have absolutely no doubt that the country is behind us,” Earps said.
“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.
“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.”
Against Northern Ireland, manager Wiegman has said she 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. “That game [against Norway] will go down in history and deservedly so, but we know that those sorts of games don’t come around very often,” Earps added. “That’s what makes it so special because we can enjoy it, but also that we know there is plenty of work to do and we can make improvements.
“We want to go as far as we can in the tournament. We’re staying focused. We enjoyed it after the game, but come midnight, it’s the next day and onto something else. “We want to do the nation proud as best we can and the way we do that is performing to high level and setting the standards in every game.”
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