Some tidbits from the Stadium of Light earlier today ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier v Austria, where England coach Sarina Wiegman and captain Millie Bright answered questions from attending broadcasters in the room and via Zoom…
Firstly, Sarina Wiegman on playing at Sunderland and the contribution the area and women’s team have made to the England squad over the past decade or so:
I’ve heard a lot about this area, it has been a big area in women’s football – a great history. So it’s really nice to be here and it’s very nice stadium. They’re [the players] really enjoying it. And they really look forward to playing tomorrow.
On opponents Austria being the sternest test since she took over in September:
We do expect a tougher game, They have a hard time against Northern Ireland, they’re well organised, they have good players, they have lots of players that play in Germany. So we expect a good competitive match, although I do think and hope that we will be more in possession than they will be. They’ve been growing, they have a very clear style of play, so I expect a tougher game than any other game we’ve played so far.
On the potential for the weather to affect the game (it was a clear though chilly morning at the time): We have our style of play but as always, you have to adapt to the circumstances and we’ll see. If you look out now it’s really nice. Tomorrow will be more windy, probably more rain. We just have to adapt to that.
On whether Jordan Nobbs may get a run out on her return to the England squad and to the North East: We don’t know yet. Let’s see how the game goes.
On Ellen White making her 100th appearance for England and what advice, if any, Sarina will offer her before the game: Have fun!
On the team having won the last four matches by an aggregate of 32-nil and what she will say to the team to ensure there will be no drop off in performance:
We will just be trying to improve our style of play again. We make sure we are all prepared for Austria, know how they play, what we want to do, how we get our game to the next level, and focus on that. And hopefully that brings us another win and some goals.
And skipper Millie Bright on whether the news of wearing the armband has sunk in now:
Yeah, it’s definitely settled in. My family are really proud and yes, it’s a big moment to have the trust of Sarina, making me captain for this camp is unbelievable. And to do it in places, where I’m from [Doncaster, on Tuesday], where football started for me and for the other girls too. It’s a proud moment. I’m really excited.
On being asked to captain a squad which also has a lot of experience: That is probably why I was stunned at first as there is a lot of experience and leadership in our squad and a lot of players capable to be in this position. But again, I’m really grateful and looking to step up to the plate,
On it being a big day for Ellen White: Ellen is fully focused on the game ahead. Ellen is a true professional and everything she does is for the team. So yeah, obviously, it’s something that will be in the back of her mind. But her focus is 100% on the team and going out and putting on a good performance for the fans.
On the prospect of playing at Sunderland and in a few days in Doncaster: Some of the players were born and raised in and a lot played for Sunderland. So for them, it’s a special moment where they started their careers to come and represent your country and play in such an amazing stadium, hopefully, in front of our amazing fans. They’re super excited and it is a special moment in their journey, in their football career.. I understand that because I’ll be returning to Doncaster and doing the same thing. We want to make it as as good as possible for those players.