Carly Telford gives us a flavour of what it is like behind the scenes at England’s Euro 2017 preparation camp.
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Sampson’s schedule builds team unity
We’ve been in the England camp on and off for a while now and it has been class. Mark Sampson has been really good at allowing us time off. It has meant we’ve been able to give our bodies and brains a break and it’s clearly paying off, in training things have been looking really strong.
I think you need that time away from each other and off of the training pitch, you need a mental break. At the moment, everything feels really good right now and everyone is in a good place. Mark has taken everything on board from Canada and tailored training to help us improve on that tournament. We have travelled to Switzerland and Denmark, which have a similar journey times to Holland, because he wants us to be ready in every possible way.
We go out to the Netherlands quite late, on the 13th June. Mark gave us a day and a half off this week before two really good days of training, then we have another day off ahead of a further two days of training, before going home on Sunday.
It’s not being dragged out. The intensity of training has been well split up for us. The manager took a lot of our feedback on board and the schedule has largely been based on a club environment and the training schedule similar to club level too.
It has been much easier to acclimatise to this pattern than training every day, which can make it harder to manage fitness levels and little niggles. The pre-Euro preparation camps have been really good, really enjoyable and it was great to get that final game against Denmark out of the way with a win. Everyone in the camp is very excited and we are in really good spirits and ready to get this tournament going.
Variety has kept us on our toes
This week we have also been given some time to relax and enjoy being around each other. We are in Valencia and it is a beautiful place so we are taking advantage of what we have around us. We’ve been to the beach, made use of the indoor pool and the girls have enjoyed sitting down after an intense day of work to watch Love Island!
When we had time off back home most girls would go and spend time with family and friends. St George’s Park is well located (unless you live in Sunderland or something) and you are only a couple of hours from most parts of the country. As we near the start of the competition we’re making the most of enjoying ourselves. This week is sort-of classed as our ‘fun week’, we’ll still be working hard and training hard but we have got some social events coming up which haven’t been revealed yet.
Recently, the team have been discussing how hard the European Championship is getting thanks to the huge growth in the quality of the European game. Teams like Denmark are really impressive and the quality is really going through the roof. There isn’t a single team in this tournament you can look at and say “they’ll be an easy three points”. It will be one of the best tournaments we’ve ever been to, quality wise, with every team bringing something exciting.
I think we’ll definitely see some shocks and upsets but ultimately you want that for the fans, you don’t want it to be boring. Nobody knows who is going to win, Spain will be expected to challenge because their philosophy is similar to their very good men’s team and their 7-0 defeat of Belgium the other night really showed their potential. The Danes, the Belgians and the Dutch have all upped their game, they defend well and use their attackers well on the break.
The Nordic countries are also really strong, especially on set pieces – as we found out against Denmark on Saturday. It will be good to see how the groups progress, we’ll be watching as well as taking part. We will obviously be focusing on our performances but we’re also fans and it’s always exciting to keep an eye on everyone else and enjoy the performances of any dark horses that pop up.
Reuniting with old teammates
I think it was exactly a year to the day since I had surgery on my ankle when I played against Denmark on Saturday – which is pretty cool! It was so good to get back between the sticks for my country and behind someone like Bass (defender Laura Bassett) again. I was only on the pitch for 20 minutes but it feels just as special as 90 after such a long time out of action.
It was really mad to be playing behind Bass again. After the match we talked about how, with Jo Potter and Jade Moore and Ellen White all playing a part, we had four of five of the old Notts County players on the pitch together at one stage. I would obviously love to play every game but we have our mini goalkeeper’s union and we work hard together to make sure whoever is on the field is ready.
We are very competitive but it is always very fun as well. Everyone wants to do their best for whoever they’ve replaced, but also for whoever will be playing in front of them too.
Our opener against Scotland
It was awful to hear about Jen Beattie and Kim Little’s injuries. I think Jen’s original diagnosis had her only missing the first game against us. Unfortunately, Manchester City found something they weren’t happy with in her ankle and the diagnosis changed. Kim did her ACL and then Jen did her ankle soon after. They are huge players and it’s a big blow to Scotland. They are also good friends and we know them very well from club football so we’ve all been disappointed that they miss out. It was particularly devastating for people like me, Jill Scott and Steph Houghton who are really close to them.
Scotland are our rivals of course but as players we have all grown up around each other. It is their first major tournament and the Scottish girls don’t necessarily know when their next one will be. I’m sure both Kim and Jen will play at a major tournament in the future. The game is growing and Scotland have some fantastic young players.
I’m sure they will still cheer us and Scotland on but will also be concentrating on getting back fit and ready for the new season. We’ve had a few scares ourselves with Alex Greenwood and Fran Kirby but they are OK now, we will all be more than ready.
Follow Carly on Twitter at @CarlyTelford1