Ella Toone has no doubt England have “a target on our back” following the summer’s European Championship success.
The Lionesses beat eight-time winners Germany at Wembley in the Euros final on July 31 to taste major tournament glory for the first time.
Their first outing since then saw Sarina Wiegman’s side secure qualification for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as they defeated Austria 2-0 in Wiener Neustadt on Saturday.
That also brought confirmation that, after completing their group games by playing Luxembourg in Stoke on Tuesday, England’s next match will be a return to Wembley on October 7 to take on current World Cup holders the United States in a friendly.
When asked about that sold-out fixture, Toone said: “It’s going to be amazing. We know how good the USA are, and we want to compete against the best teams.
“I think now we have a target on our back because we’ve won the Euros. So these games are really exciting and we can’t wait to have all the fans back in the stadium again.”
Toone has described England – who have been in near-flawless form under Wiegman, going 21 matches unbeaten with 19 wins – facing the Americans as “another level”.
The 23-year-old Manchester United forward added: “It’s always a tough game when we’ve played them previously.
“But it’s exciting and obviously back at Wembley, our favourite place – can’t wait for that, and to have all the fans back in the stadium supporting again.
“I think it’s only going to help us prepare for when we go out to the World Cup, and these are the matches we want to put ourselves in, we want to challenge ourselves against the best teams. We’re looking forward to it.”
Toone has been trying to adjust to the increased level of attention resulting from England’s triumphant Euros campaign, which included her scoring a stunning opener when they beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in the final.
And she said: “More people recognise you now walking down the street, which has been mad, but also amazing. We knew that it would have an impact, (but) I don’t think we knew how much of an impact it would have. This summer’s been very different to previous ones!”
Toone also laughed as she said of shouts of ‘Tooney’ from the crowd sounding like boos: “I’ve got used to it now, I know the fans are on my side and not booing me!”
Saturday’s match saw Wiegman, who had had an unaltered starting XI through the Euros, make three changes, with Toone one of those to come in as she replaced the injured Fran Kirby.
Another was Toone’s United team-mate Alessia Russo, in for the retired Ellen White, and she put England ahead with a seventh-minute finish. Substitute Nikita Parris – a summer signing for United – then struck to wrap things up with around 20 minutes to go.
Firing us ahead early doors!— Lionesses (@Lionesses) September 4, 2022
The third player brought in was Alex Greenwood, taking over at left-back as Rachel Daly dropped to the bench.
Greenwood came on five times during the Euros, and then started two Champions League qualifying matches for Manchester City on August 18 and 21.
The 28-year-old said: “There wasn’t (much time off) at all. I think the City girls had maybe five, six days off, then it was straight back to it.
“You can look both ways. It’s get going again and get straight back to it and then managing yourself and being sensible. To be honest it just feels like we’ve just continued. It’s fine, it is what is is, it’s football.
“(Managing things) is vital, it’s so important. Everything you do away from the pitch is so, so important at this stage, and that goes for everyone as well.
“It’s just the beginning – we haven’t even started the (domestic) season yet believe it or not!
“That part is so important and the older you get definitely the more you have to do that. I didn’t think that a couple of years ago but it catches up with you.”
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