Bristol will be back vows Mary
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