In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport, England and Manchester City superstar Lucy Bronze discusses her return to the England squad and the Arnold Clark Cup.
I absolutely love playing for England – international matches are normally the highlight of my year! I’m delighted to return to the Lionesses squad, and it’s been great to link up with everybody at camp.
I’m yet to play under Sarina Wiegman – I was recovering from knee surgery when she first took over as England manager. We did speak during that period but mainly about team dynamics.
From an outsider’s point of view, she’s been interested to know why we haven’t been able to take the final step and win a trophy.
What is it that’s stopping us? We keep getting to semi-finals, and she knows that we’ve got a talented squad and a good pool of English players to pick from.
So as an outsider, I think Sarina has always wondered why we haven’t pushed on to the next level when we have the talent to do so. That’s what she’s been trying to find out and rectify.
Now I’m back, I’m going to focus on getting back into training, adding more competition to the team and pushing people for places. With the Arnold Clark Cup around the corner, it’s a great time to return to the national team set-up.
Who will be England captain?
There’s been a lot of noise about who will be the next England captain, but ultimately Sarina will do what she thinks is best for the team and the girls will go along with that.
I know she wants to see what myself and Steph Houghton are like in the team, as we’ve both been missing from the last few camps. Leah Williamson and Millie Bright have also had stints as captain over the past few months.
So, there’s been a few names thrown about by the media, but I think we’re at a stage now where the captaincy isn’t the most important thing to be focusing on.
Of course, the captain is the one that leads us out onto the pitch, but there should be enough people now who can lead the team without having an armband, who can be leaders in crucial moments during matches.
People like Jill Scott, Ellen White and myself have rarely worn the armband, but there are multiple times over the past few years where we’ve led the team with our actions on and off the pitch.
Arnold Clark Cup
The Arnold Clark Cup may be a friendly tournament, but we’ll be playing against three top teams. With all due respect to the sides we played in the World Cup qualifiers last year, the girls did not get tested as much as they could have.
Those teams were lower down in the world rankings, and although that offers a different type of challenge, it’s not the type of challenge we need if we are to win Euro 2022.
Spain, Germany and Canada, however? Coming up against these three teams will be a real test. Germany have won the Euros numerous times, Canada are the current Olympic gold medallists, and the majority of Champions League winners Barcelona play for Spain.
I think I’m most excited to play Spain. I’ve only played them once during my international career and that was at Euro 2017. They had something like 80 percent of the possession, but we won 2-0.
Both teams have come a long way since then, and of course they now have some of the best players in the world in the national team. It’s going to be a really good match-up.
Building up to Euro 2022
I like that the Arnold Clark Cup is spread out around the country. I’m really excited to play the first game up in the North East, especially because I missed out on the match played at the Stadium of Light last year.
I’ve never actually been to Norwich, so that should be fun. It’s a big footballing city and Lauren Hemp is a local, so hopefully we can pull in a few fans. Then the third game is more or less in the middle of the country, so not too far from the North or the South.
It will mean a bit of travelling as a team to get to each location, but I think it will be worth it if we can get the fans to each stadium and create a bit of hype before the Euros.
I’d like to think we can cause a bit of excitement, especially if we perform well and get good results. People will get excited about the team and the possibility of us reaching the final of a home Euros.
Everything’s in place for us to do that. Sarina has come in and got good results with the team, and brought in some new players. The aim is now to create as much hype as we can now ahead of Euro 2022, so that we have that home advantage nailed down before it begins.
We’ll know what it’s like to play in big stadiums against big teams, and how to perform and win games. We should be the best prepared team going into the Euros off the back of everything we’re doing in these coming weeks.