Euro 2022: Karen Bardsley praises “world class” England players

Karen Bardsley looks on during Manchester City match
Karen Bardsley of Manchester City looks on prior to the FA Women's Continental League Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Campus on January 20, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

As the 2022 Women’s Euros approaches, we spoke to former England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley about her thoughts on the upcoming tournament.

Prior to her retirement in May, Bardsley had been a regular for England for more than 17 years.

When asked how she would rate the current squad, the former Manchester City star gave Sarina Weigman’s side an eight out of ten. She did admit however, that it was difficult to judge as she had so recently retired from international duty. 

“I’m going to say, we’ve got world class players in every single position. We’ve got some really great depth as well.”

So who did Bardsley describe as the players to look out for and which teams is she most excited to see?

Karen Bardsley celebrates for England during the 2017 Euros
Karen Bardsley celebrates during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Group D match between England and Scotland (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

England’s ones to watch

Keira Walsh was the first name on Bardsley’s list when asked who could be key for England this summer.

“I’m waiting for her to just light the international stage up and I feel like this might really be a moment for her.”

Walsh has amassed almost 40 appearances for England since making her senior debut in 2017.

Newly announced England captain Leah Williamson was also high on Bardsley’s radar to watch out for this summer.

England defender Leah Williamson during the Women’s SheBelieves Cup match between the USA and England on March 05, 2020 | Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

“I’m also really excited for Leah, she’s been given the captaincy. She’s a very calm leader, very logical in how she approaches situations so I think she will hopefully flourish.”

The Arsenal No.6 has been a regular name in the Lionesses squad for more than four years now. Williamson is capable of playing in multiple positions, and has been deployed in midfield during the most recent international camps.

Her versatility could be a vital asset to England’s performances at the Euros this summer.

Young talent

Bardsley is also optimistic about what England’s youngest squad members could bring to this summer’s competition.

“I think with youth obviously comes enthusiasm and energy and that’s something you always need on your side,” she explained.

The former England keeper was quick to dismiss the idea that younger squad members may struggle with the scale of the occasion.

“They’re also pretty experienced at the international levels of youth, so I don’t think it’s going to be something too foreign to them. Especially because of the way the domestic women’s game has gone, they’ve played in front of massive crowds at the Emirates, Spurs, at Old Trafford.

“I don’t think it’s going to faze them as much as it maybe would have in the past.”

Bardsley then tipped Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp to “light everybody up.”

Manchester City Leicester City WSL
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 24: Lauren Hemp of Manchester City Women is challenged by Ashleigh Plumptre of Leicester City Women during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester City Women and Leicester City Women at The Academy Stadium on April 24, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Indeed, Bardsley’s thoughts on England’s young winger are shared by many fans heading into the tournament. After bagging six goals in just 19 senior appearances, the 21-year-old has already cemented herself as a key star in the national team.

“I can’t wait to see her,” Bardsley said.

The competition

Bardsley was clear on who she felt could prove to be the toughest opponent for the Lionesses.

“I’m really excited to see Spain. All the years that I’ve played against them, they’ve been such a talented group but they’ve always overplayed in front of goal. It’s like, ‘just shoot!’” she laughed.

This summer’s tournament gets under way on the July 6th at Old Trafford. Wembley will host the final 25 days later.

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