Ella Toone is hoping England can ‘thrive off any nerves’ as they prepare to launch their Euro 2022 campaign.
The host nation open this summer’s long-awaited tournament when they take on Austria at a sell-out Old Trafford on Wednesday.
With England among the favourites for the title, there is plenty of excitement and nerves surrounding their involvement but Toone hopes to channel all that into positive energy.
“I think for me there’s a lot of excitement,” said the Manchester United striker. “I think all the girls are just excited to get going now.
“When we step out onto the pitch in front of that massive crowd there might be a few nerves but I always think, we play every single day, we do what we love – so thrive off the nerves if there are any but for me right now, I just can’t wait.”
The Group A opener at Old Trafford carries extra poignancy for Toone having grown up as an ardent supporter of the United men’s team and now being one of the key players in their women’s side’s attack.
“For me personally it’s massive,” said the 22-year-old. “Growing up, supporting Manchester United and having the opportunity to play for Manchester United at Old Trafford was so special and a moment that I’ll never forget.
“Then obviously now, stepping out for England at our home Euros, opening the tournament at Old Trafford is going to be amazing.
“I’ve just been having the same dream every night about scoring at the Stretford End.
“I think for me it’s just excitement. I’m just so proud to be able to go there and represent England at a major tournament at my home stadium. I just can’t wait and I’ll enjoy every moment of it.”
England will be hoping to get off to a good start ahead of next Monday’s clash against Norway at Brighton and then their meeting with Northern Ireland at Southampton the following Friday.
The side have shone under manager Sarina Wiegman’s attacking philosophy, winning 12 and drawing two of her 14 matches in charge.
She said: “For me it’s just going there and getting the three points and opening the Euros with a great performance, and just making it special for all the fans that will be watching.
“We want to play attacking, exciting football, so to be an attacking player it’s always good that Sarina wants us to create things and get on the ball and be brave and play with that bit of freedom.
“She always wants more but so do we as players. If we score 10 we wanted 12, we’re never happy because we set high standards of ourselves and we always want more.
“I think that’s why she’s so good and she wants to drive the team to do even better.
“You’ve got to take these moments because they don’t come around often. We’ve sold out Old Trafford, we’re playing for England in our home Euros. These are once-in-a-lifetime things so why not just go out there and enjoy it?”