Keira Walsh not focused on personal treble as England chase World Cup glory

England midfielder Keira Walsh insists the prospect of completing a personal trophy treble with a World Cup win has scarcely crossed her mind.

Walsh followed up England’s Euro 2022 triumph and player-of-the-match honours in that final with a move to Barcelona, with whom she achieved Champions League glory alongside fellow Lioness Lucy Bronze in June.

A first World Cup at the August 20 Sydney final would cap off a phenomenal 13-month run for Rochdale native Walsh, who joined the Spanish side for what was believed to be a world record fee in September.

Walsh (left) was named player of the match at the Euro 2022 final

Walsh (left) was named player of the match at the Euro 2022 final (Nigel French/PA)

She said: “It’s not something I’ve thought about but it would be pretty exciting.

“I think when I first moved to Barcelona I did have to take a deep breath. When you go into that environment and you look at their midfield it is a little bit daunting, I think is fair to say.

“They were all super helpful with it though and I’m not really on social media to see those things. I just take the game day-to-day and enjoy playing. I don’t really focus too much on what’s going on on the outside.

“But when it’s all said and done, winning the Euros and the Champions League in the space of a year, you do need to take a breath and take a step back – not to evaluate it but let it all sink in. It’s an exciting thing and then going to a World Cup as well.”

Both England and their Friday opponents Denmark picked up wins in their opening contests, so the second encounter for each might prove vital in deciding the Group D winner.

The Lionesses could even seal a trip to the knockout rounds tomorrow if they defeat Denmark and China draw with Haiti in the late kick-off.

Walsh, nominated for FIFA’s best women’s player of the year in 2022, agreed it seems her ascension to the elite ranks of her position has come with a corresponding response of teams trying to shut her down.

She said: “Yeah, but I think I was used to it at Man City, it happened quite a lot in the Women’s Super League.

Walsh feels Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola's influence is also felt in women's football

Walsh feels Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola’s influence is also felt in women’s football (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I don’t necessarily think it’s just me, I think a lot of teams are trying to stop holding midfielders in general because that’s where football is going now.

“I think the game has changed as a whole, but I’ve got more influence from the Spanish in terms of how they’ve always played, and the Pep [Guardiola] influence has always helped me in that respect. In general football I think more people do try and play through the central midfielder.

“Yeah of course [it’s a challenge I want], I think first-half it’s usually a little more difficult, I think in the second half it tends to open up a bit more anyway, but for me, I want to be playing in those tighter situations and really testing myself. I enjoy the challenge and am just looking forward to seeing the rest of the tournament.”

The 26-year-old, who made her senior England debut in November 2017 and was named in her first World Cup squad four years ago, is amongst the Lionesses with the most major tournament experience having also featured for Team GB at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

England boss Sarina Wiegman has challenged Walsh to take up more of a leadership role

England boss Sarina Wiegman has challenged Walsh to take up more of a leadership role (Nick Potts/PA)

England boss Sarina Wiegman has been “pushing” Walsh to take more of a leadership role on the pitch, a role she has somewhat reluctantly accepted.

Walsh added: “Maybe it’s just solving the pictures on the pitch and coaching a little bit more. I wouldn’t say I’m the loudest so it doesn’t come naturally to me. But it’s something she wants me to improve on.

“I think I’m one of the more experienced ones in terms of being at tournaments and winning the Champions League so players do automatically look at that but it’s a team full of leaders and it doesn’t matter if you’ve played one game or 50.

“We listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions. I think that’s what’s so special about this team. Hopefully we can show that against Denmark and what we’re about.”

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