05272017

Form ‘not a priority’ for England women’s boss

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England mindset is to win Euros – Sampson

England head coach Mark Sampson says form “isn’t a priority” after stating he will name his Euro 2017 squad more than three months before the finals.

The 23-strong pool – and seven reserves – for the tournament in the Netherlands will be confirmed on Monday.

England’s first match in the finals is against Scotland on 19 July.

“Form is important, but it’s certainly not up right up there on my agenda in terms of priorities when I’m picking the squad,” Sampson told BBC Sport.

“If Barcelona get to the Champions League final and Lionel Messi has been injured for six months but two days before the game he reports fully fit, I’m pretty sure Luis Enrique will pick him.

“We have to make sure we look at what we need and what it takes to win and pick the people who we think can help us do that.”

Some of England’s players are currently representing their clubs in the FA Cup, with the one-off Women’s Super League Spring Series kicking-off on 22 April.

That will serve as a transitional tournament due to the traditional WSL season being moved to a September start.

‘It takes away the uncertainty’

Sampson will name his squad ahead of friendly matches against Italy on 7 April and Austria three days later, as England prepare for Euro 2017, which begins in the Netherlands on 16 July.

Former England boss Roy Hodgson named his men’s squad fewer than four weeks before Euro 2016 but Sampson feels doing so early will “bring huge benefits”.

“We’ve worked with our player pool for three years now and are clear on the right players we want,” he said.

“This gives the squad and staff the chance to be focused solely on the Euros and takes away any of the uncertainty that players might have in the run-up.”

England begin their Euros campaign against Scotland in Utrecht on 19 July before facing Spain in Breda on 23 July and Portugal in Tilburg on 27 July.

The Lionesses – who finished third at the 2015 World Cup – were unbeaten in eight qualifying games but have won just one of five outings, including defeats to France and Germany at the SheBelieves Cup.

“Mark’s decision to name the squad early will give us the chance to prepare properly and focus on doing as well as possible come July,” said Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth.

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