Keira Walsh ‘feeling fresh’ before latest round of Women’s Nations League games

By Sports Desk November 30, 2023

Keira Walsh says she is “feeling fresh” as she targets a fourth consecutive summer of international football.

Barcelona midfielder Walsh played for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and then for England when they won Euro 2022 before finishing as runners-up at the summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The latter tournament saw the 26-year-old miss a game due to a knee injury, and a subsequent calf problem saw her sit out the Lionesses’ two September matches in the Women’s Nations League – a competition through which England can secure qualification for GB for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Walsh said: “After so many tournaments, and somebody actually sent me a thing the other day that I’d played the second-most games in Europe, I think naturally that’s going to take a toll on your body. I think obviously that’s potentially a factor of why I got injured at the start of the season.

“But I did my rehab, the club and England have looked after me, we’ve had a camp since then and a lot of games in between.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling fresh, and I think that was my little break for me to now go again and push on this season.”

Walsh says another tournament next summer is something she is “definitely” up for, adding: “Honestly, the thought of pre-season is worse!

“I’d rather go to a tournament. It’s special. People talk about the winning, but just the feeling of being part of a team for so long, and you spend every day with each other – I think then when you go home and you’re not with 50 people is also a bit weird. Even off the pitch it’s a special feeling to be part of a group at a tournament.”

England need to finish first in Group A1 to have a chance of obtaining the Olympic qualification and head into their final two pool matches in danger of falling short of top spot.

Sarina Wiegman’s side are currently third, three points behind the Netherlands, 2-1 victors against them in September, and one behind Belgium, who last month – with Walsh back in the side – they beat 1-0, then were defeated by 3-2.

It leaves England needing to win to remain in contention when they host the Netherlands at Wembley on Friday, before they take on Scotland at Hampden Park four days later.

Walsh said: “I think obviously we want to put the things right that weren’t so good in the Belgium game, and it’s going to be a difficult game for us. We know it’s a must-win.

“But I’m hoping we can show the resilient side to us and the character, and put in a good performance.

“I think (in the second match against Belgium) it was maybe just a slight lack of concentration at times. But let’s not catastrophise it, it wasn’t the worst game in the world for us.”

Regarding next week’s contest, Walsh said the fact England are in a group with Scotland players holding hopes of making the GB squad is “a little bit strange”, but said: “If I’m putting myself in their shoes, it’s a big game against England. They’re going to want to win – and so do we.”

As well as regular captain Leah Williamson still being out injured, England also have Millie Bright, who has been skipper in her absence, sidelined at the moment.

Walsh, holder of 67 England caps, believes there are “a lot of natural leaders in the team”.

On her personal role, she added: “That’s something that Sarina has also asked of me, to take on a little bit more responsibility in that aspect, especially in the midfield, to try to vocalise and communicate a little bit more, and hopefully that is something that I can work on and improve on.”

Related items

  • Real Madrid and England midfielder Jude Bellingham wins Laureus award Real Madrid and England midfielder Jude Bellingham wins Laureus award

    Jude Bellingham joined Novak Djokovic and Aitana Bonmati as the big winners at the Laureus World Sports Awards as the England midfielder won the World Breakthrough of the Year prize in Madrid.

    Bellingham became the first footballer to claim the honour the day after scoring Real Madrid’s late winner in their 3-2 El Clasico victory over Barcelona.

    The 20-year-old has had an outstanding first season at Real since joining from Borussia Dortmund last summer, scoring 21 goals in all competitions.

    Djokovic was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record-equalling fifth time after winning the Australian Open, French Open and US Open to lead the way with 24 grand slam men’s singles titles.

    “I am incredibly honoured to have won my fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award,” said Djokovic.

    “I think back to 2012, when I won it for the first time as a 24-year-old. I am very proud to be here 12 years later, reflecting on a year that brought me and my fans a lot of excitement and success.

    “It was thrilling to return to Australia last January and win my 10th title. It is a tournament that is so dear to my heart and set me up for an incredible 12 months.

    “I could not have achieved so much success without an incredible team behind me, and inspirational rivals who have always pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

    Bonmati took to the stage twice to collect two awards – the first footballer to win the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year trophy and also represent the Spain team which won the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

    She said: “It is humbling to see the list of previous winners of this award.

    “From Serena Williams to Simone Biles, Lindsey Vonn, Naomi Osaka and last year’s winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, they are all incredible athletes who have not only excelled in their chosen sports, but been incredible role models for younger generations of young women and girls.

    “As the first women’s team to win the Laureus, we are proud of our status as pioneers and as a group we are as committed to equality and representation as we are to what we do on the football pitch.”

    American gymnast Biles, a three-time winner of Sportswoman of the Year, won the World Comeback of the Year Award.

    Biles collected four gold medals at the World Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, her first global event since leaving the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health issues and entering a near two-year break from the sport she had dominated.

    Other award winners were Rafael Nadal (Sport for Good), Diede de Groot (World Sportsperson of the Year with a disability) and Arisa Trew (World Action Sportsperson of the Year).

    :: The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards took place on Monday 22 April in Madrid, celebrating the leading names in sport from across the globe. To find out more, visit www.laureus.com.

  • FA seeks ‘formal observations’ from Forest trio over comments about officiating FA seeks ‘formal observations’ from Forest trio over comments about officiating

    Nottingham Forest face the threat of Football Association and Premier League charges over their extraordinary attack on the officiating of their match against Everton on Sunday.

    Three Forest members of staff – head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, referee analyst Mark Clattenburg and full-back Neco Williams – have been asked by the FA to explain comments they made about the refereeing at Goodison Park, while the Premier League is also examining the club’s social media post which appeared to question the integrity of VAR Stuart Attwell.

    The statements from the authorities came within hours of Forest demanding the release of VAR audio related to the rejection of three penalty appeals during their 2-0 defeat.

    Forest first issued a club statement on X on Sunday, minutes after the final whistle, in which they said they had “warned” referees’ chief Howard Webb that Attwell “is a Luton fan” but that no change was made to the match appointment.

    The club went further on Monday evening and called on Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to change its rules on officials’ allegiances to account for “contextual rivalries in the league table”, not just local rivalries.

    The Premier League said it was “extremely disappointed” by the statement issued on Sunday and added: “It is never appropriate to improperly question the integrity of match officials, and the nature of these comments means the Premier League will also be investigating the matter in relation to the league’s rules.”

    Sources have since told PA that Clattenburg did contact Webb on Friday to share that he thought Nuno might be asked about Attwell by the media, but that Forest did not raise Attwell’s appointment as a concern or make a request to change the appointment.

  • Chelsea to take strongest possible action after Nicolas Jackson racially abused Chelsea to take strongest possible action after Nicolas Jackson racially abused

    Chelsea have threatened to bring criminal charges against anyone found to have racially abused Nicolas Jackson in the aftermath of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City.

    The 22-year-old striker missed a number of chances at Wembley as his side bowed out of the cup with a 1-0 defeat and was subsequently the target of abuse on social media.

    The racist comments were left on an Instagram post he had made following last week’s victory over Everton, in which he scored his 10th goal of the season.

    In a statement, the club said: “Chelsea Football Club is disgusted by the racial abuse directed towards Nicolas Jackson via social media, following Saturday evening’s game.

    “There is no place in society for any form of discrimination and we operate a zero-tolerance approach to any incident of this nature.

    “The club will support any criminal prosecutions and take the strongest possible action, including bans, against any individual who is found to be a season ticket holder or member.”

    Defending the Senegal international’s record during his debut season – since signing for Chelsea from Villarreal – manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “Jackson is doing fantastic and he will always have my support.

    “He’s doing an amazing job for the team: running, scoring, assists.

    “It’s not easy in the first season. Nicolas fights for the club and he will be better next season, no doubts.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.