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Wembley sell-out will be ‘special moment’ for women’s game – Carney

Former England international Karen Carney believes a sold-out Wembley for the Lionesses’ clash with Germany will be a “special moment” for women’s sport.

The game on November 9 at the national stadium could beat the world-record attendance for a women’s football match, 80,203, set at the 2012 Olympic final between the United States and Japan.

Carney won her 100th cap during England Women’s current attendance record at Wembley in November 2014, when 45,619 fans saw the national side lose 3-0 to Germany.

“It’d be a massive moment,” said the former England winger, speaking at the launch of the Football Association’s Shooting Stars programme.

“It’ll be special for everyone involved, from the first-ever team that played for England, it’ll just be a massive moment.

“It’s come a long way, the game, and it’s just been rapid the last 10 years in development but I think that moment – to sell-out it’ll just be an iconic, special moment.”

England’s semi-final defeat to the United States at this summer’s World Cup reached a peak audience of 11.7 million viewers, while two opening-weekend Women’s Super League matches, played at the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge, had attendances of over 20,000.

When asked about domestic matches taking place at men’s stadiums, Carney said: “I think bespoke one-off games are good but I think the fundamental thing is we’ve got to get everyone down to their actual WSL grounds week-in, week-out.

“I was at the Chelsea v Arsenal game at Kingsmeadow a couple of weeks ago and it was just under 4,000 people there and that’s what we need to do: sell-out the smaller grounds, the actual grounds of the clubs and then keep going back to the men’s grounds for the big, special games.”

After the success of the World Cup the national side have struggled, going five games without a win before a 1-0 victory in their last outing in Portugal on October 10.

Karen Carney, left, won over 100 caps for England

Karen Carney, left, won over 100 caps for England (John Walton/PA)

The Lionesses have qualified automatically for Euro 2021 as tournament hosts so have instead been playing a number of friendly matches, but Carney is not concerned with their recent form.

She said: “What I think people don’t realise is that after a tournament it’s really, really difficult to get going again and what the current England team haven’t had is the qualification rounds because they’re obviously already through.

“Sometimes you need those qualification games to get you back into the groove, and because they haven’t had that it’s been a little bit challenging.

“The key thing now is for England to peak at the right time, which I’m sure they will. They’ve bounced back with a great win against Portugal and another tough game to look forward to at Wembley.”

Carney was speaking at the launch of the FA’s Shooting Stars programme, a new initiative launched in 1,200 primary schools across England today, teaching physical literacy and football skills to young girls up and down the country.