Sarina Wiegman insists England are focused on winning the World Cup

Sarina Wiegman insists England will ‘give everything’ to win the World Cup and is adamant bonus row won’t impact success as the ‘focus is on football’

  • Sarina Wiegman believes England are fully focused on winning the World Cup
  • The Lionesses will kick off their campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday
  • The England coach is unconcerned that off-field issues will be a distraction 

England boss Sarina Wiegman says her team are ready to do everything possible to win the World Cup and insists the ‘noise’ around her squad’s bonus row with the Football Association will not distract them.

Wiegman’s European champions revealed their frustration this week at the lack of an agreement over performance-based payments, but they have put negotiations on hold for the duration of the competition.

And the manager, who has not been involved in the discussions, is adamant her team are fully concentrating on football.

‘We’re here and we have a dream,’ she said. ‘Of course there is always a chance to win the World Cup. We will give everything. You call it noise (the bonus row).

‘When we go on the pitch, everyone is aligned and everyone is focused on football. I haven’t seen any other behaviours, so yes, we are ready.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman (middle) is fully focused on leading her team to Women’s World Cup glory

England will kick off their World Cup campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday

‘They felt comfortable to use their platform (to put their side of the bonus argument) and their platform has become bigger. But now it’s all about football — the only focus is on football.

‘We said we want to be ready and we are. We have had our last session and we are ready to go.’

England are overwhelming favourites to beat Haiti on Saturday, who are competing at their first World Cup and ranked 53rd in the world. ‘We have a lot of respect for them, they’ve done really well,’ Wiegman said. ‘We have a whole team behind us to analyse our opponents, so we know everything we need to know about Haiti.

‘We have never played them but we are very well prepared and I don’t think there is any stone unturned in our preparation for this game.’

Wiegman admitted the title of European champions would bring extra pressure but believes her team have become adept at handling expectation.

‘The pressure is always on England,’ she said. ‘Everyone expects England to win — that was the same last year (at the Euros). What we’re trying to do is play our game and focus on what we have to do and how we can do it.’

Wiegman can call on captain Millie Bright, who had been a fitness doubt coming into today’s game after knee surgery in April. The defender made her long-awaited return in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Canada last week and Wiegman confirmed she was ready to start.

‘We are happy,’ Wiegman said. ‘This was the plan, the plan worked, so Millie is ready to play.’

Wiegman is unconcerned that off-field discussions over bonuses will impact her team

Wiegman admitted England’s title of European champions would bring extra pressure 

Bright, who has been named captain in the absence of the injured Leah Williamson, insisted she had always been bullish about returning in time to face Haiti. ‘When you are surrounded by the best people, I was very confident in my recovery,’ she said.

‘I was given absolutely everything that I needed to be in this position that I am in. I am grateful that I am able to play. I am super excited to be here.

‘I went day by day to start with and didn’t look too far ahead. By doing that, I removed all the pressure of being fit, so my head was in that place, but I’m always confident I’ll do absolutely everything that I can for the team, and put myself in the best position. I knew I’d tick all the boxes in terms of my recovery.’

Bright echoed her manager’s belief that the team are fully focused despite the off-pitch issue around bonuses.

England are overwhelming favourites to win their opening match against Haiti

Millie Bright has been named as England’s captain for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand

‘Obviously it’s not a situation anyone wants to be in but sometimes we have to have these conversations,’ she said.

‘We have a very professional group and football is always at the front of everything. Our heads are on the game — for now it’s all about the tournament.’

Wiegman gave no clues over her starting XI but admitted competition for places had given her a selection problem. ‘I’ve decided but I’m not going to tell you,’ Wiegman said.

‘Everyone is fit. We have tried many things. We want everyone to be ready for the game. It has given me and the technical staff some really big headaches. It’s been really competitive, so I want them to keep giving me headaches.’

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