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Karen Carney: England have only reached third gear under Sarina Wiegman

England manager Sarina Wiegman (Joe Giddens/PA)
England manager Sarina Wiegman (Joe Giddens/PA)

Former England midfielder Karen Carney feels the team have only reached “third gear” so far under Sarina Wiegman and that things are looking “exciting” ahead of the home Euros this summer.

Since Wiegman, who guided Holland to Euro 2017 glory, took charge of the Lionesses last September, they have won six out of six World Cup qualifiers, with 53 goals scored and none conceded, and the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup.

That was sealed on Wednesday as England beat Germany 3-1 at Molineux – just a second victory in 27 meetings – following draws against Canada (1-1) at the Riverside Stadium and Spain (0-0) at Carrow Road.

Sarina Wiegman has been in charge of England since last September (Tim Goode/PA).
Sarina Wiegman has been in charge of England since last September (Tim Goode/PA).

Carney told the PA news agency: “I think the England side is still in third gear.

“You have to give credit to the manager. She’s come in and made England defensively solid. It’s about staying in the game at all times, but you see she’s tactical and she’ll make changes.

“She’s experienced, she’s been there, she’s done it, she’s won it. I think we have one of the best managers out there, if not the best. And it’s exciting because I think there’s still a lot more room for England to grow and develop, and there’s plenty of time for that to happen.

“When I say third gear, I could probably go through that XI and the others that played on Wednesday and could know there’s still a lot more to go from them individually.

“Come the start of the tournament, I hope we’re going to be in such a good spot. I think we’ve got some really world-class players. It’s exciting.”

Carney, who retired in 2019 with 144 England caps to her name, was part of the squads that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup that year and the last four of the two major tournaments before that.

“We won the SheBelieves Cup going into the 2019 World Cup, and it breeds confidence, it really does,” Carney – also a Euros runner-up in 2009 – said.

“To get the win over Germany (on Wednesday), it was quite an interesting game and a battle we needed to overcome in terms of psychology I feel, and we did it and I think that will breed a lot of confidence into that group.

“I think it would have been good for the team to have a taste of what it would feel like to win on home soil.

“I think there will be four or five teams that are really in it (at the Euros), the winners will just boil down to margins, and I hope those margins are home crowd advantage, that we’ve had experience on home soil in this (Arnold Clark Cup) tournament, and that they go in the favour of England.

“I don’t fear any other nation. They’re all good. But previous tournaments, I’m like: ‘You definitely want to avoid them’, and there’s not one.”

Carney was speaking as the National Lottery launches a campaign to thank its players for the more than £12.5million of funding that has helped community clubs survive during the coronavirus pandemic, with over 100,000 free tickets to be made available for selected matches across the four home nations in March and April.

And the 34-year-old former Birmingham, Arsenal and Chelsea player has described how important the grassroots game has been to her.

Karen Carney made 144 England appearances (Richard Sellers/PA).
Karen Carney made 144 England appearances (Richard Sellers/PA).

She said: “I grew up with non-league football. My first team was Moor Green, I went there as a young girl, my dad took me, and that’s how I kind of started to fall in love with football.

“That then went on to the amalgamation of Solihull Moors, who I followed and worked and volunteered with. I’m a big fan of non-league football, so when I was asked to get involved (in the campaign), I thought it was brilliant and it’s something I am passionate about.”

The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign will make over 100,000 tickets available on a buy one get one free basis for National Lottery players for selected matches as a ‘thank you’ for over £12.5million of funding they helped provide to community football clubs during the Covid pandemic. To find out more visit www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk

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