Keira Walsh relishes coming up against tough opposition in the Arnold Clark Cup

England midfielder Keira Walsh is relishing the prospect of facing strong opposition in the next week.
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Keira Walsh believes the Arnold Clark Cup will prove to be a yardstick for England to measure themselves against some of the world’s best ahead of a home European Championships this summer.

The Lionesses host three other nations ranked in the top 10 as they come up against Canada, Spain and Germany in the next week.

The opening game comes against Canada at the Riverside on Thursday night as Sarina Wiegman faces the first stern test of her England tenure.

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Since taking charge in September, she has led England to six wins from six with an aggregate score of 53-0 as they brushed aside inferior opposition in World Cup qualifying.

Wiegman admits the standard of the opponents has been poor and was a big driving force behind the round-robin Arnold Clark Cup, which also sees England play Spain at Carrow Road and Germany at Molineux.

With a home tournament now coming into view, Manchester City midfielder Walsh is looking forward to squaring up against strong opposition and seeing how England cope with the challenge.

“I think it’s fair to say a lot of these teams do have some of the best midfielders in the world,” she said.

“I think in those (qualifying) games, for me, it is about staying switched on and obviously, the opposition didn’t have a lot of attacks.

“But I think not just for me, but the whole team, it’d be nice to see how we (are) tested defensively and kind of how we’re going to press and whether it’s a mid-block or seeing how we cope in those situations and equally, then how do we then play out of the pressure and that sort of thing.

“So I think everyone is just really looking forward to it, we’ve probably not had the toughest games recently.

“I think playing these three games before the Euros is such an important thing for us just to see where we’re at, really, as a team.”

It was confirmed Arsenal’s Leah Williamson will once again captain England for the three games, having worn the armband for Wiegman’s first four matches with Steph Houghton missing through injury.

Leah Williamson will captain England during the three-match Arnold Clark Cup.

Leah Williamson will captain England during the three-match Arnold Clark Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)

Williamson was ruled out of the last camp with a hamstring issue as Millie Bright took over as skipper, with no permanent captain named.

Walsh has only got back into international football following a calf injury but she progressed through the England ranks with Williamson and had been delighted to see her lead out her country.

“When I was younger and we played at under-17s, under-18s and under-19s she was always the captain of the youth teams,” added Walsh.

“It’s always a role she has naturally assumed anyway, whether she is wearing the armband or not. We have a team of leaders. But I’m so proud of her and seeing how far she’s come.

“She’s had a few injuries recently so just seeing the strides she’s made in her game. She’s at the forefront of that now.

“As her best friend and team-mate it’s such a proud moment for me. I know her family really well too so I know they will be so happy for her. It was a nice moment for everyone.”

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