Ella Toone believes England’s players will embrace the pressure of travelling to the Women’s World Cup “with a target on their backs” after their triumph at Euro 2022. Sarina Wiegman’s side are second favourites behind the holders, USA, despite losing their 30-match unbeaten record in a friendly against Australia at the end of April. They will face Portugal on Saturday before departing for a pre-tournament training camp on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Toone, who scored England’s opening goal in the victory in the Euro 2022 final against Germany, expects the Lionesses to rise to the challenge in Australia and New Zealand. “We definitely do have a target on our backs now after the Euros but that’s what we want,” said the Manchester United forward.
“We want to win everything. We don’t put pressure on ourselves. We know that we need to go there out and perform and know we will come up against really good teams, but the main thing is making the nation proud and going out and enjoying ourselves.”
England have reached the semi-finals of the past two World Cups, losing to Japan in Canada in 2015 and the United States four years later in France. Toone was at the latter tournament as a fan. “I watched the first game so my memories were of being a fan and being a little fan of Lucy Bronze and all them lot. It’s definitely changed the second time around,” she said.
“I watched them and I thought, ‘that’s what I want to push towards’. That’s what I set my mind to and I’m going out to the World Cup.”
England begin their campaign against Haiti on 22 July in Brisbane and will also face China and Denmark. But while Toone is not looking behind the group stages, she insisted the Lionesses are no longer afraid of the United States after their victory over the four-time World Cup winners in a friendly last year. “We believe in ourselves as a squad. I don’t think you can fear anyone if you want to win,” the 23-year-old said.
“There’s definitely a lot of favourites. A lot of unbelievable teams and a lot of talent. For us it’s taking each game as it comes and not focusing too far ahead. We know there’s a lot of teams that are big teams and they will make it hard.
“We don’t know about the distractions and the talk away from it. We’re in our own little bubble. We know it’s going to be difficult.”