England captain Leah Williamson said the Lionesses were nervous about their Euro 2022 opener but were mostly excited and embracing the home game.
The Arsenal defender – although her position remains a hot topic ahead of Wednesday’s game – will lead England to a sold-out Old Trafford when they face Austria.
There is a lot of focus on the Lionesses heading into the European Championship, and despite the expected nervousness, Williamson said her team is looking forward to their campaign starting.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, the England captain said: “I think we are ready for tomorrow. We are not robots and we will be nervous.
“We know what to expect from outside sources, but from inside the camp it’s all about the excitement and enjoyment of it.
“It’s my job, if I’m not ready and not enjoying it, why should I do it? That’s my mindset.
“The team is in a great position. Fitness wise and all the things you can control we’ve taken care of and we’re in a great place.
“The warm-up provided us with a test, we need to see where we might be weaker, find out what our strengths are, where we end up and where we are.
“They provided us with these and we had time to prepare.
“Home support is 12th. Sarina has experience with this and she wants us to embrace it. It’s probably something we haven’t been good at in the past, but we’re happy there will be 77,000 [at Old Trafford] Tomorrow, most of them will serve us.
“It’s an advantage that we’re at home, and we use it as much as we can and embrace it.”
Leah Williamson on hugging England captain
“I’m trying to be who I am and stay true to that role. It’s a responsibility, that’s what it is and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and I’m trying to accept it.
“I’m lucky that I play in a team that has a lot of experience and knowledge that I don’t have and that they can share with me.
“I will stay true to myself and hope to influence the team in a positive way.”
It remains to be seen where Williamson will play against Austria. She played at Arsenal’s centre-back all season and played alongside Millie Bright in the final friendly against Switzerland, but was also deployed alongside Kayla Walsh in the pre-match in midfield.
But the question of where Williamson wants to play is easy for her to answer: “I want to be on the pitch and play for England.
“I’ve never been to the European Cup, it’s enough to play for England on the pitch. Do whatever I need to do for the team.”
For Salina Wegman, she added: “I’ve learned a lot from the last three games and our previous games. She can play in both positions.”
For Williamson, there will also be some familiar faces in the Austrian squad. Goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberg is also Arsenal’s No. 1, while captain Victoria Schnaardbeck has been with the Gunners for four years.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone in the Austrian team,” Williamson added. “But it’s a pleasure to see them tomorrow and welcome them to England.
“Hopefully it’s a better experience for us. It’s great to welcome the girls here, but we’ll leave the club’s loyalty at the door. Hopefully the relationship remains strong after the game.”
Wiegman: Everyone is healthy ‘starting XI has not been selected’
Not only does Wigman have to worry about Williamson, she has some tough choices to make in the starting lineup against Austria, but she confirmed that all 23 players are fit for selection.
However, she won’t make any firm decisions about her team until after her final training session at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“It’s been incredible and exciting,” Wigman said. “We’ll train in an hour to get a feel for the stadium and then we start tomorrow. I can’t wait.
“Everyone can train, everyone is on the field. Having the best players is the most important thing. I’m really happy and then it’s hard for us to make a choice.
“Not yet finalized [the starting XI] However. We do this after the last training session. We’ve shown that we have a very good squad and we have to make tough choices, which is really good.
“It was an exciting time and it would be weird if we weren’t excited.
“We’re talking about training well, playing well as a team, doing the best we can. Generally, that’s what we’ve been talking about.”
Sarina Wiegman faces Austria again
“Austria are a very strong team and their unity is very good. They are strong, mentally good and well organised.
“In November, they didn’t have anything they had recently.
“If we play our best game, we’re going to have more possession than them and dominate the game more than they can.”
Of course, Wiegman is in familiar territory. It was the second consecutive home European Championship for her respective teams – playing in her native Netherlands in 2017 – but the England manager said almost everything was different from five years ago.
“The game has grown so fast and so well,” she said. “A lot of counties have improved and the level is high. It’s really hard to predict what the game will be like when it’s over.
“A lot of countries are in a good position, and I think we are too. In the tournament, weird things can happen, but hopefully it’s an advantage for us
“Everything is bigger, there are more expectations. The game is at a higher level, so it’s hard to compare.
“More experience and more moments in a higher environment [in the squad]. So it’s actually quite different, but at the end of the day, you’re working with a team and playing football.
“As a coach, it’s always helpful when you gain experience. It’s a completely different situation than it was five years ago, but I want to share my experience.
“In this group we have a lot of experienced players who have played a lot of great games at the highest level, so the team has a lot of experience. We talk about expectations and then bring that back to football.”
Wegman’s key questions ahead of European opener
England’s best starting XI, Leah Williamson’s role, first-half goalscoring performances and more ahead of Wednesday’s Euro 2022 opener against Austria at Old Trafford all exist.
So where does Sarina Wiegman need to focus the most?
Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports
Keep up with all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Reporting will be moderated by Sky Sports WSL host Caroline Barker along with Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will be analysing throughout the game.
They will also be joined by veteran England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
The pundits and presenters will work on the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile demo bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team across the country to the various stadiums where the match is being played.
Additionally, from June 21st, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be renamed the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong lineup of programming around the tournament.
Euro 2022: Team…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Euro 2022: The fixtures…
Wednesday, July 6
Group A: England vs Austria – Kick-off 8pm, Old Trafford
Thursday, July 7
Group A: Norway vs Northern Ireland – Kick-off 8pm, St Mary’s
Friday, July 8
Group B: Spain vs Finland – Kick-off 5pm, MK Stadium
Group B: Germany vs Denmark – Kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Saturday, July 9
Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – Kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden – Kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Sunday, July 10
Group D: Belgium vs Iceland – Kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Monday 11 July
Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland – 5pm kick-off, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – Kick-off 8pm, Brighton & Hove Community Stadium
Tuesday 12 July
Group B: Denmark vs Finland – Kick-off 5pm, MK Stadium
Group B: Germany vs Spain – Kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday 13 July
Group C: Sweden v Switzerland – Kick-off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – Kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday 14 July
Group D: Italy vs Iceland – Kick-off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Friday 15 July
Group A: Northern Ireland v England – Kick-off 8pm, St Mary’s
Group A: Austria vs Norway – Kick-off 8pm, Brighton & Hove Community Stadium
Saturday 16 July
Group B: Finland vs Germany – Kick-off 8pm, MK Stadium
Group B: Denmark vs Spain – Kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday 17 July
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – 5pm kick-off, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden vs Portugal – Kick-off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday 18 July
Group D: Iceland vs France – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy vs Belgium – Kick-off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday 20 July
Quarter-finals 1: Group A winners vs. Group B runners-up – Kick-off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday 21 July
Quarterfinals 2: Group B winner vs Group A runner-up – Kick-off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Friday 22 July
Quarter-finals 3: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up – Kick-off at 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarterfinals 4: Winner Group D v Runner-up Group C – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday 26 July
Semi-Final 1: Winner Quarter-Final 1 v Winner Quarter-Final 3 – Kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday 27 July
Semifinals 2: Winners Quarterfinals 2 v Winners Quarterfinals 4 – Kick-off 8pm, MK Stadium
Sunday 31 July
Winner Semi-Final 1 v Winner Semi-Final 2 – Kick-off 5pm, Wembley