Leah Williamson has spoken of the importance of the respect being shown towards the England Women team after they had priority access to the main pitch at St George’s Park.
Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses, preparing for the home European Championship finals this summer, trained on the Sir Bobby Charlton pitch at the Burton-upon-Trent base on Tuesday while Gareth Southgate’s men’s team, who face Nations League fixtures, did so elsewhere on the site.
“This is obviously something that’s important,” Williamson, the captain, said. “We’re on a journey, women’s football is on a journey and we’re on the up, and we fight for that as much as we can in all areas.
“But the respect that we’ve been given, and the respect that our tournament has been given, bearing in mind we have a Euros in the summer, and the preparation and the facilities that we have access to … If you’d have gone back a couple of years this wouldn’t have been the case, and that’s just factual. So the fact that that is now [happening] is a big step in the right direction.”
Williamson, asked whether it felt as if this England Women team would be the best prepared any have been for a major tournament, Williamson said: “Yes, I think so.”
Their session on the pitch on Monday was watched by Southgate and Harry Kane.
Wiegman has a 28-player provisional squad for the tournament, which gets under way when England play Austria at Old Trafford on 6 July. That is due to be cut to a final 23 next week, before warm-up matches against Belgium at Molineux, the Netherlands at Elland Road and Switzerland in Zurich on 16, 24 and 30 June respectively.
The former captain Steph Houghton, who has been recovering from ankle surgery and not played since January, took part in most of Tuesday’s session before sitting out a section, as planned. The same applied to Fran Kirby, out of action since February because of a fatigue-related issue.