Gutsy Jess­de­serves her Eng­land re­call


YOU can tell my first Eng­land call-up was a long time ago – I found out by let­ter! In those days the news came through the post. I knew Eng­land scouts had been at Tran­mere Rovers’ games, but I didn’t know who they’d been watch­ing. My mum still has all my Eng­land letters in her loft. I couldn’t be­lieve it when the first one came. Play­ing for my coun­try had al­ways been a dream.When teach­ers at school asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d say ‘I want to play for Eng­land’.They’d say,‘Good, but what else do you want to do?’ I got my first call-up when I was 16 and then made my de­but against Ger­many in 1997 when I was 17.The game was at Pre­ston so all my fam­ily and friends were there. I re­mem­ber run­ning around like a head­less chicken at first be­cause I was so ex­cited to be on the pitch. Hope Pow­ell, play­ing along­side me in mid­field, said,‘Calm down! Just play your nor­mal game and get on the ball’.


It’s such a buzz to be play­ing for your coun­try. I re­mem­ber think­ing I want to do this more and more.

My mind­set changed.What train­ing do I need to do? What foods do I need to eat? As a young player play­ing for Tran­mere, you pretty much trained twice a week and ate what you liked.

Sud­denly I turned from a young girl just want­ing to play football, to want­ing to be more pro­fes­sional and as suc­cess­ful as I could be.

Ob­vi­ously as time went on we found out we’d been called up by email. And I’m sure there were some happy peo­ple re­ceiv­ing emails this week af­ter Mark Samp­son an­nounced his squad for the Euro qual­i­fier in Es­to­nia later this month.

Gilly Fla­herty from Chelsea has been called up be­fore, but she’s yet to make her de­but. She’s a good, solid cen­tre-half and it’s good to see her in line for a first ap­pear­ance along with Ar­se­nal’s Dani Carter. Izzy Chris­tiansen from Manch­ester City has been se­lected for the first time. I’ve rated her for a long time.

There’s also a few re­calls and one I’m most pleased about is Jess Clarke. I was gut­ted for her when she didn’t make theWorld Cup squad.

I spoke to her on the phone straight af­ter the World Cup squad was an­nounced. I said,‘I’m re­ally sorry’. But she said,‘It’s al­right. I’m go­ing to work re­ally hard and get my­self back in’. That’s what she’s done.

Some peo­ple would have sulked af­ter miss­ing out. She didn’t and that’s the type of per­son Jess is. She didn’t do any media, didn’t take to twit­ter to whinge at any­one. She went on hol­i­day, came back and fo­cused on her football.

As soon as the league restarted she’s been scor­ing goals for Notts County. Even when they’ve lost she’s got on the score­sheet. It’s all credit to her – and to Mark for bring­ing her back. Jess showed the at­ti­tude you want to see from play­ers. Gemma Dav­i­son is the same and I’m pleased to see her back in the squad.


I’ve al­ways rated her. A lot of peo­ple have been ask­ing,‘Why didn’t she go to the World Cup?’ I played with her for Eng­land but for some rea­son Hope Pow­ell didn’t se­lect her for many camps.

Mark hasn’t picked her for a com­pet­i­tive match un­til now and she de­serves the call. Ev­ery time I’ve watched Chelsea she’s looked qual­ity. She’s a player who loves to take play­ers on and has pace to burn.She’s ex­cit­ing to watch.

It shows if you’re play­ing well for your club, then you will be picked.That is how it should be. Play­ers shouldn’t just be picked on their name.

Mark is very good at get­ting out and watch­ing lots of dif­fer­ent games. If he’s not there, then his as­sis­tant Marieanne Spacey will be.

In­ter­na­tional squads of­ten need to be fresh­ened up to keep pro­gress­ing. If you’re be­ing hy­per-crit­i­cal, he hasn’t won any­thing and Mark, I’m sure, will think the same.

Yes, they did fan­tas­ti­cally well in Canada and bet­ter than any­one ex­pected – prob­a­bly even bet­ter than Mark ex­pected him­self.

But now they’ve got a real op­por­tu­nity to go to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Hol­land and ac­tu­ally win it.The first thing they need to do is qual­ify. Look­ing at the group, Eng­land should easily do that. Once they have, the fo­cus turns to: Can we lift the tro­phy in 2017?


BOUNC­ING BACK: Notts County’s Jess Clarke has earned her Eng­land re­call. Inset:Gilly Fla­herty, top, and Izzy Chris­tiansen

PRIDE: Sue Smith play­ing for Eng­land

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