‘Prankster’ Nikita Parris talks about #FIFAWWC preparations

Nikita Parris of England during the media session at St. George’s Park. (Photo: Lynne Cameron for The FA)

Nikita Parris believes that England’s World Cup preparations have prepared the players for failure just as much as they have for success. 

Lionesses boss Phil Neville has made no bones about his players’ and his own desire to bring the trophy back from France but winning a World Cup is no mean feat.

As part of their preparations, England endured a tumultuous quartet of warm-up games that included defeats to both Canada and New Zealand and Parris understands the trophy won’t be served up on a plate for her.

The 25-year-old, who has just signed for French giants Olympique Lyon, will provide England’s main attacking threat when they take on Scotland for their opener in Nice and is desperate to eliminate the mistakes that have hampered the preparation phase.

“Naturally you think about winning the World Cup, but we know there are going to be hurdles along the way,” said the forward.

“No one is just going to give you the trophy – not Scotland, not Argentina, not Japan and not anyone else we get going forward.

“We had to bounce back after the Sweden game before Christmas then we went and won the SheBelieves Cup.

“We wanted to beat USA there, but we didn’t then we came home and didn’t play our best football against Denmark, still beat them, and then went and played unbelievable football against New Zealand and they beat us 1-0.

Nikita Parris talks to team mates during a break in play of the defeat to New Zealand. (Photo: Lynne Cameron for The FA)

“We have had ups and downs along the way before we have even got here but we know the process and we know the long-term goal and we just need to constantly review ourselves as a team and as players.

“The girls who won a bronze in Canada said it was the hardest thing they have ever done so going for gold is going to be even more difficult.

With Neville keeping his cards close to his chest with regards to team selection it remains unclear whether Parris will be used as a striker or a winger for the tournament.

The FA WSL’s record scorer has previous experience playing through the middle during her time at Everton but has since developed into a more versatile forward under the guidance of Manchester City manager Nick Cushing.

And despite her imminent departure from the Academy Stadium, Parris remains adamant that joining the current FA Cup holders was the best thing she could have done for herself and her teammates.

“Moving from Everton to Manchester City was the best thing I could have done for my career because I learned things as a player and understand the game in a different way,” she added.

“The way Manchester City play is an unbelievable style of football and you must know your position, but you also need to know your teammates’ positions.

“I always thought about the game from an individual perspective, but they have really perfected me as a player.

“But more importantly now I can think about how to get the best out of the players in front of me and behind me and that is why I think I can flow between positions now.

Her talents with a ball at her feet are what usually attracts attention Parris, but it is also her cool and calm attitude that her apart from most other players.

Known behind closed doors as the squad prankster, it could be her mental strength that plays just as much a part in England’s success this summer as her capabilities on the pitch.

“I am probably the one that initiates it all and then everyone starts firing back at me,” she admitted.

“I do play some jokes on Phil but not too many – I want to keep my place in the squad.

“I did put salt in his tea once and he knew it was me, but it is such a relaxed environment and many people will say that because we spend so much time together – we are like a family.

“When we are on the training pitch we will give it our all but when we are back in the hotel we have got to chill out and everyone just wants to switch off from football – for me it is jokes.”

Phil Neville’s Lionesses will bid for World Cup glory in France this summer with all their matches broadcast LIVE on BBC One

By Sportsbeat

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