Bristol will be back vows Mary

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Luke Baker

AS MIXED emo­tions go, you’d be hard pushed to find a more con­trast­ing week than Mary Earps has had, but the goal­keeper is in­tent on re­tain­ing the ‘glass-half-full’ men­tal­ity. Firstly, the 22-year-old ex­pe­ri­enced the eu­phoric high of be­ing called up to Mark Samp­son’s Eng­land squad for their Euro 2017 qual­i­fier against Es­to­nia as her dream of rep­re­sent­ing her coun­try edges ever closer.

Yet days later she was brought crash­ing back down to earth as her Bristol Academy side were crushed 6-1 by ti­tle-chas­ing Manch­ester City – math­e­mat­i­cally con­firm­ing their rel­e­ga­tion from the FA WSL 1.

In truth, the writ­ing has been on the wall for Bristol for a while – just one win from 13 league games and a 3-0 loss to near­est ri­vals Birm­ing­ham in early Septem­ber es­sen­tially sealed their fate.

But de­spite the heart­break of go­ing down, Earps is con­vinced the club are primed to bounce back.

“It has been a very dis­ap­point­ing sea­son for us at Bristol and we’ve just not been good enough to get the num­ber of points we needed,” she said.

“Go­ing full-time dur­ing the sea­son has im­proved us as a team, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

“Peo­ple might talk about some teams in WSL 1 hav­ing more re­sources than us, but for me that doesn’t mat­ter.

“Once you’re out on the pitch at the week­end, it’s 11 against 11 and it’s a game of football.

“I’m con­fi­dent that as a club we are in a strong enough po­si­tion to bounce straight back up.

“The aim will be to get pro­moted at the first time of ask­ing – I know that WSL 2 is a strong league, but there are some very good play­ers at this club so it’s def­i­nitely pos­si­ble to do it.”

The Es­to­nia game wasn’t Earps’ first in­volve­ment with the se­nior side – she also fea­tured in the squad for the match against Mon­tene­gro in April 2014 – but a de­but ap­pear­ance is yet to come.

The stop­per has been a reg­u­lar through­out the Eng­land age-group sides, rep­re­sent­ing her coun­try at U17, U19 and U23 level.

She got the se­nior call for the Es­to­nia clash af­ter Siob­han Cham­ber­lain pulled out with an in­jury. And the 22-year-old stop­per is adamant that she is head­ing in the right di­rec­tion for a full in­terna- tional de­but in the near fu­ture.

“I ac­tu­ally found out I’d been called up on the way to train­ing with Bristol and then it was a rush to tell ev­ery­one there and get ev­ery­thing sorted,” she added.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly proud to be in­volved with the se­nior team and it’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

“I was de­lighted to get the call. I’ve been in the squad on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions now, so that has just in­creased my hunger to make my de­but.

“Play­ing for your coun­try is ev­ery player’s dream, so I’d love to have that op­por­tu­nity and I think I’m head­ing in the right di­rec­tion to do that.

“I’m still young and I feel I’m get­ting bet­ter and im­prov­ing ev­ery sea­son.

“Keep­ers tend to peak a bit later as you need that ex­pe­ri­ence, so I just want to keep get­ting bet­ter.”

MIXED BAG: Mary Earps suf­fered the dis­ap­point­ment of rel­e­ga­tion just days af­ter another Eng­land call-up

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