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Monday 17th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

SAMANTHA MILLER spoke to some of the Lionesses ahead of the tournament and found out their greatest moments in an England shirt, as well as what they think they bring to Mark Sampson’s squad

The Euros kicked off yesterday and England will have their best chance of winning a major trophy. The Lionesses have Scotland, Spain and Portugal in their group and will hope to come top and finish better than their bronze medal at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

Now is their time to clinch gold and I met the players to hear what they had to say ahead of the tournament.

Toni Duggan

Age: 25

Current club: Manchester City

Previous club: Everton

Position: Forward

Toni Duggan has a wealth of experience in the game and travels to the Netherlands on the back of a tremendous domestic season, winning the FA Cup, Women’s Super League, League Cup and reached the semi-final of the Champions League.

The lioness was on form in the Spring Series and will be one to watch in the Euros with her work-rate and ability.

What was it like coming through the ranks at youth level?

“There’s a lot of us now that won the Under-19 championships that have stayed together and I think now we are really reaping the benefits of it. We’ve known each other a long time on and off the pitch.”

Who are the big characters going to the Euros?

“I think that’s the beauty of this team. Everyone brings something different. We’ve got a lot of different characters. Jade Moore and Laura Basset bring the discipline; they are always there keeping people in line.

“You’ve then got the entertainment from Carly Telford and Ellen White. I was the one playing the pranks last time at the World Cup. I hid in the overhead locker on the aeroplane.”

Lucy Bronze

Age: 25

Current club: Manchester City

Previous club: Liverpool

Position: Full back

Lucy Bronze developed a prolific status at the last World Cup with her continuous displays of brilliance, which led the defender to pick up the PFA player of the year award.

The attacking full back often scores goals and is usually found winning the ball high up the pitch, utilising her pace to get back when needed. Bronze’s crosses into the box will be crucial and she will be hoping for another successful major tournament. She claims her her middle name is “tough.”

Being part of that U19 winning side, do you think winning at a young age in a major tournament breeds a winning mentality?

“We didn’t concede a single goal while we were there. We’ve got that winning mentality. When I think back to it and how well we did, we didn’t necessarily have the best individuals but we played really well as a team.

“We had Jade Moore playing right wing, Izzy Christiansen playing left wing and players in all sorts of positions but we just performed well as a team, and so many of those players have been picked for the Euros. Hopefully we can do the same.”

Does it give you confidence with your Manchester City teammates being selected for the Euros?

“It’s the same set of players around me, you get those relationships formed, especially defensively. Playing next to Steph Houghton and knowing how she likes to play and what I need to play like next to her can only be a good thing.”

What is your favorite goal you’ve scored for England?

“My favorite goal has got to be in the World Cup, two goals at a World Cup is good for any player, but being a defender it was pretty exciting.”

Jordan Nobbs

Age: 24

Current club: Arsenal

Previous club: Sunderland

Position: Midfield

Jordan Nobbs was voted Arsenal’s player of the Spring Series by the fans. The midfielder scored a tremendous free-kick against Manchester City among other memorable goals for both club and country.

The Lioness scored her England debut goal in the Cyprus Cup, a spectacular lob.

Nobbs was unfortunate with injuries going into the World Cup and will be looking to make up for it at the Euros.

The midfielder has shown leadership and quality building up to the tournament and will be a key player in the Netherlands.

What is your favorite goal for England?

“My debut goal. Getting into the senior team for England, scoring the goal against Italy in the first eight minutes of my debut was a great moment for me.”

Who was your footballing hero growing up?

“Katie Chapman. She was always a role model, a fantastic player in centre midfield.

What is your best moment in an England shirt?

“Obviously the World Cup. Also winning the Euros at U19 level, when you do well at youth level it develops you and gets you into that mindset of how tough it is playing game after game. I scored in the final which was a great moment for me.”

What is your best attribute?

“My engine. I’m one of the fittest players and my long-range shooting is a great attribute of mine.”

Fran Kirby

Age: 23

Current club: Chelsea

Previous club: Reading

Position: Forward

Fran Kirby suffered injuries leading up to the tournament, but since returning, the forward has lived up to her “mini Messi” nickname given to her by manager Mark Sampson. Despite missing some of the Spring Series through injury, Kirby still finished top goalscorer.

Kirby scored a handful of magnificent goals to mark her first major tournament in Canada. Some questioned the selection of Kirby but she will prove her worth in the Netherlands with her eye for goal and pace up front.

What is your favourite moment for England?

“My favorite moment and goal for England was my debut against Sweden and scoring the opening goal of the World Cup when we needed to win the game. It was an important goal to get the team going.”

Who was your footballing hero growing up?

“Thierry Henry because he was a goalscorer. I always used to copy his goals in the garden.”

What is your best attribute?

“My pace on the ball. I’m quick on the ball and my finishing. As a striker you want to be able to score goals and I think I score more than I miss.”

What are your best footballing moments?

“Winning the WSL with Chelsea, playing and scoring in the Champions League and winning a gold medal in Kazan with Team GB at the world university games.”

Jade Moore

Age: 25

Current club: Reading

Previous club: Notts County

Position: Midfield

While I didn’t speak to the final player, she isn’t your typical glory player and I feel she adds a lot of value to the team and is the unsung hero.

Moore breaks down all the play with her tough tackles in order to start the majority of the Lionesses’ attacks.

The midfielder is underrated but also versatile as Sampson can rely on her in her less recognisable positions when called upon. He said about her: “Since the World Cup in particular, Moore has added a level of maturity to her game.

“The consistent level of her performances have been excellent but the exciting part is she still has so much more room to get better.”