Soccer

Grace Clinton raring to go ahead of England’s European Championship qualifiers

The defending European champions kick off their qualifying campaign against Sweden at Wembley before facing the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Grace Clinton is on loan at Tottenham
Grace Clinton Grace Clinton is on loan at Tottenham (Joe Giddens/PA)

England midfielder Grace Clinton is excited to “hit the ground running” as the Lionesses start their European Championship qualifying campaign this week.

The defending European champions kick off against Sweden at Wembley on Friday before facing Republic of Ireland in Dublin four days later.

England then play France at St James’ Park in May and Tottenham loanee Clinton believes the side will need to be on “top form”.

“It was drawn right after the last camp, it’s a really competitive group but that’s always going to happen when you’re in such an amazing tournament,” Clinton told a press conference.

“I think we’re all really excited to get started to be honest and hit the ground running.

“(Sweden are) another team that has amazing depth and are a really strong side, they’re very physical and quite direct, score goals. So we’re going to have to be on top form if we want to get a result against a team like that.”

Clinton has two senior England caps under her belt already having made her debut in two friendlies in Spain, which included a debut goal in the Lionesses’ 7-2 victory over Austria.

After impressing in Spain, the 21-year-old will be aiming for more minutes in this month’s qualifiers and believes she has gained more confidence since making her senior bow.

She said: “It brings so much more confidence, in the lead up to getting your first cap you’re always going to be very nervous and now that you’ve been out with the girls on the pitch and really gone in the deep end it just feels a lot more natural when you’re in training.

“You have far more confidence to express yourself each time.”

Captain Leah Williamson is aiming to make her international comeback in the upcoming matches.

A post on the official Lionesses X account confirmed the defender was following an “individualised session” on Tuesday and Clinton is looking forward to seeing Williamson back on the pitch.

“It’s my first camp with Leah back in and she’s one of the best in the sport isn’t she? So it’s amazing to have her back,” she said.

“Obviously she’s getting integrated slowly and we’re only a couple of days in, so it’ll be really nice to get her back with the team on the pitch.”