Bethany England says she and her team-mates will not be distracted by our first WSL fixture of the season taking place at Stamford Bridge, and the newly-capped international striker has also given her reaction to the news Magdalena Eriksson has been named Chelsea Women’s captain.
England made her England debut in last week’s friendly draw in Belgium, but now her focus is solely on the visit of newly promoted Tottenham to Stamford Bridge tomorrow. A large crowd is expected in SW6 for the opening league fixture of the campaign, and while the 25-year-old recognises the significance of the day as a whole, she is also not losing sight of the match’s significance.
‘It’s massively important to get off to a good start,’ England told the official Chelsea website.
‘We had a slow run last year, drawing the first three games which cost us league-points-wise. We know it’s going to be a big event, the first game of the season in front of a big crowd, but it’s important we hit the season running by picking up points.
‘Being able to play in such a big stadium and promote the women’s game is exciting for everyone, and exciting for women’s football. Some of the girls haven’t had the chance to experience it yet and they’re especially excited.
‘But it’s still a game of football. We don’t want to be overrun with emotion because of everything else going on. We know how important the game is and I’m sure will be professional and focused for it.’
England, who played in Chelsea Women’s last game at the Bridge against Wolfsburg in October 2016, has set herself the individual target of scoring more than the 12 league goals she managed last campaign, but collective success remains at the forefront of her ambitions. Leading her and her team-mates now will be Magda Eriksson, who yesterday was confirmed as the new skipper.
‘I’m absolutely buzzing for her. As Emma touched on there’s a lot of leaders in this squad and I think there are a number of people it could have been, but she has been chosen for a reason and she will be a great captain.
‘She will lead the team really well – she’s a good person off the pitch as well as being a strong leader on it. I’m excited for her and hopefully we do our captain proud.’
England did everyone at the club proud when she came on for England debut recently, just reward for a standout season at Chelsea last time out.
‘It was unbelievable,’ she reflected a week later.
‘People keep saying to me when I came on and made my debut in that first game against Belgium, "at least smile Beth!". Five minutes prior I was on the bench shaking a little bit, and then once I got the call I was ready and the adrenalin kicked in. That was why I looked so serious!
‘I was really proud of the way I impacted the Belgium game. it’s something I have been working towards most of my life. I have always wanted to play for my country, so to be given that opportunity by Phil was unbelievable.’
There's plenty going on before Sunday's game...
You will be able to read more from Bethany England in the matchday programme for tomorrow's game, plus it will be the first place you will be able read the thoughts of our new women’s captain Magdalena Eriksson. The edition will also feature exclusive interviews with Drew Spence, Karen Carney and Katie Chapman plus there will be the thoughts of Emma Hayes and Bruce Buck ahead of the game. Pat Nevin, who was in France watching this summer’s Women’s World Cup, reviews a memorable tournament in the pages too.