What is it like being on standby at a World Cup?

Lucy Staniforth
Lucy Staniforth joined Aston Villa from Manchester United in January and finished the season strongly

It is the job nobody really wants but someone has to do it – being on standby for a World Cup.

Expected to drop all plans and fly across the world just in case one of the lucky 23 who has been selected happens to pick up an injury, there can be fewer better examples of a team player.

England midfielder Lucy Staniforth was a late addition to boss Sarina Wiegman’s standby list – forced to miss a holiday in Ibiza with her mother as she replaced injured Manchester City forward Jess Park as one of the Lionesses’ back-up options in Australia this month.

Aston Villa’s Staniforth and Manchester United defender Maya Le Tissier were with the European champions on the Sunshine Coast, training and helping them prepare for their opening match with Haiti.

With all the selected Lionesses coming through preparation in one piece and able to take their place in the first matchday squad, Staniforth and Le Tissier’s time in camp was up.

They were in the stands in Brisbane as England got off to a winning start before the duo flew out to Sydney to begin a travelling trip, following the team as fans.

“I think the overriding feeling right now is a little bit of sadness and pride,” said Staniforth.

“I am sad to be leaving the group, the girls and the tournament. It has been a wonderful experience but, ultimately I am really proud of myself.

“It is a different position to step into – to drop your whole life and everything, and jump at a chance to come and work with the group.

“I am just really proud that I came at it with a great attitude and hopefully contributed to the team.”

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So what next for Staniforth and Le Tissier?

“I want to cross off a few bucket list things while I am here,” said Staniforth. “Maya and I are going to Sydney. It is going to be really cool because there is obviously World Cup stuff going on.

“If you come all this way, you’ve got to make the most of it. The staff have booked for us to be able to [walk on top of the Harbour Bridge] as a ‘thank you’.

“But I am scared of heights! I am just going to smile and be brave. We are going to do it together. Maya can go first and I will just look at her!”

‘I am not finished yet’

England squad in Brisbane
The Lionesses were welcomed to Brisbane where they opened their World Cup campaign against Haiti

It must be a strange feeling, reuniting with the manager who did not select you for the World Cup and helping the players who beat you to a place in the squad.

But for Staniforth, it was a bonus couple of weeks to impress the boss.

“I didn’t want to come into an environment, leave it and no one notice that you have gone. You always want to try and make a mark,” she added.

“It is just credit to the group that is here and how welcome Sarina makes you feel. It was a natural thing for me to come into training and be myself.”

Staniforth hopes there will be an opportunity to play at another major tournament too.

The 30-year-old went to the 2019 World Cup but was one of those cut from Wiegman’s 28-player preliminary squad for Euro 2022.

“That was what was in the back of my mind coming in – you want to take every opportunity you can to put yourself in Sarina’s plans.

“I just hope I can continue in the form I was in last season and I am looking forward to the next internationals. Hopefully I can be in with a shout of being in the squad because I am not finished yet.

“I have still got so much more that I want to achieve and contribute to this team. I would love to play a part in the future.”

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