Interview

Road to the World Cup: Karen Carney

England’s Lionesses begin their Women’s World Cup campaign today against fellow home nation side Scotland. Karen Carney is our fourth and final English representative at the tournament to preview France 2019…

Chelsea’s creative winger is set to feature in her ninth major tournament and fourth World Cup with England. Carney is the most-capped player in the current squad having made over 140 appearances in an England shirt.

The 31-year-old has helped the Lionesses win silver at Euro 2009 and bronze at Canada 2015 – she is hoping that she can get gold this time round…
 

What does it mean to be selected to represent your country?

‘I don't take anything for granted. Even the media day excited me! I can see where the development of the game has come from, I've been part of it for the past 15 years, and I just want to enjoy every moment.

‘It's my fourth one and I'm just really excited to go. I feel like I'm 17 again, going to my first major tournament, and that's been my attitude over the past year – throw my chips in and enjoy it. I'm not under any pressure from myself or anyone else, so let's go and have some fun.’
 

This will be your ninth major tournament. As a kid you'd have been happy with one!

‘I know, it's crazy. I don't think I'll fully appreciate what I've done until I'm retired. Nine is a lot! I just hope my ninth is the one that gets me gold.

‘You can go to as many tournaments, but you want that medal and that's the driving factor for going to so many tournaments. You chase that gold, you crave it. I hope it's ninth time lucky!'

Read: Road to the World Cup with Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert
 

Feel the pressure of being one of the favourites?

‘Not really. We've reached the semi-finals of the past two tournaments and won the SheBelieves Cup, but just because someone says you're a favourite doesn't make any different – you want to win it anyway and it's not a pressure, because that's your objective.

‘In fact, I wouldn't like it if people weren't saying, “Go on, back yourself”. It means we're good enough and other people think we're good enough. So do we. I don't see it as a pressure at all.’
 

Does the captaincy at Chelsea, and status as one of the senior players in the squad, mean you feel extra responsibility to lead more?

‘Not really. I think we've got a good group of experienced players we can bounce off. Steph's captained the side for a long time, Jill's going to her fourth World Cup as well, and there's a lot of people who can take that leadership role.

‘We're a group who can step in at the right time when something needs to be said, or doesn't, but everyone is in a good place at the moment and nothing hasn't really needed to be said. I hope that continues.’
 

Teams in your group…

‘They're tough. With the first game, let's not even put football in contention – you've got a rivalry, England versus Scotland. You play against, and with, these players often, it's their first game at a World Cup, and then you bring into equation the football match against some very good players. It's a huge game.

‘Then you go into Argentina and Japan, and we know how good they are. It's a tricky group, a tricky situation for us, but we've got a very good team and a lot of confidence. Hopefully we'll get through.

‘Scotland have got our Player of the Year in their ranks, Erin Cuthbert. Presumably she won't be short of a thing or two to say ahead of the game!

‘We've had some banter throughout the season about it – she's given me plenty of gyp and I've given some back. She'll be well up for it and we'll have to keep an eye on her, because I know how good she is. I train with her every day. They've got a lot of good players so I think it will be a really good match for the neutral.’

Favourite memory so far of your international career?

‘It would be from 2015 when we beat Germany to finish third. That meant we were the only other team, after USA, to come away from the end of that World Cup winning our last game. We'd never beaten Germany before and we did it our way. The whole trip was unbelievable and it was just a really positive way to end it after being knocked out in the semi-finals. We deserved to finish on a relative high.

‘That World Cup was also my favourite tournament I've played in. I enjoyed Euro 2005 and '09, we got to the final of that, and the Olympics was sick as well. There's probably two or three that were really cool.’

England v Scotland kicks off at 5pm UK time. Coverage is on the BBC.

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