EXCLUSIVE: Ellen has the White stuff to fire England to glory

Gavin Glicksman
LiveScore
Ellen White is expected to deliver the goals England need to go all the way
Ellen White is expected to deliver the goals England need to go all the way

Rachel Yankey is backing Ellen White to fire England to glory at Women's Euro 2022. 

As the country's record women's scorer, the Manchester City striker has netted 50 goals in 107 senior appearances. 

And Yankey has identified her as one of the players boss Sarina Wiegman can rely on to ensure the hosts prove exactly why they are among the favourites to win the tournament.

Speaking during a visit to LiveScore's London HQ, the former Lionesses star was also full of praise for Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Millie Bright. 

She said: "Beth has been fantastic. She’s taken her opportunity at Arsenal and has been in fantastic form — she seems to have taken that into this England team.

"Lauren is a fantastic player. She’ll be key in terms of what she can bring to the game with her assists and goal threat. 

"But there’s also how she can excite a crowd — she can change the momentum of a game at the flip of a coin. She’s a big, big player for the Lionesses. 

"And Millie at the back, with the way she can switch the ball. She’s such a defensive rock. 

Rachel Yankey cannot wait to see the Lionesses in action at Women's Euro 2022
Rachel Yankey cannot wait to see the Lionesses in action at Women's Euro 2022

"Then there’s Ellen and her goals. When England narrowly win games, it’s usually her that gets the goals. 

"She’s an absolute goal machine in an England shirt. You want her to start the tournament full of confidence."

With Steph Houghton left out of the final 23-woman squad for the tournament after not featuring for City since January due to an Achilles issue, Arsenal ace Leah Williamson will wear the skipper's armband. 

And while Yankey admits Houghton will be sorely missed, she believes 25-year-old Williamson has already proven herself to be a fine leader. 

The former Arsenal and Fulham winger, 42, added: "I’m gutted for Steph. In previous tournaments, whether it’s been with England or Team GB, she’s been fantastic and has led the team so well. 

"With her experience, I’m sure she would have brought a lot to this team. But you’ve got to respect the manager’s decision. 

"For whatever reason, Sarina didn’t see how Steph could be part of the plans. It’s a shame for her but it’s an opportunity for other players. 

"The team will know Steph will wish them the best of luck and they’ll want to go out there to do their best for her and the nation.

"Leah’s very down to earth. She’ll take the captaincy in her stride [at the tournament] and I think she’ll really enjoy it. She won’t be afraid to share the burden with other players and use their experience."

Leah Williamson will lead the Lionesses at Women's Euro 2022
Leah Williamson will lead the Lionesses at Women's Euro 2022

England reinforced their tournament credentials by recording comprehensive victories in all three of their warm-up games. 

The Lionesses won 4-0 in Switzerland before crushing the Netherlands, formerly managed by Wiegman, 5-1 and rounded off a hat-trick of wins by beating Belgium 3-0. 

With sold-out stadiums hosting their group games, England will not be short of support as they bid to win their first major women's tournament. 

But while Yankey is confident Wiegman's squad have all they need to get their hands on the trophy, she knows they have some fierce competition.

The Londoner, capped 129 times by England, said: "We’ve got a very talented side with the ability to win it. But there’s such strong teams in this tournament. 

"It will be very difficult. But hopefully with home support and all that it can bring, it will inspire the team to do well. 

"It’s really difficult to pinpoint one team [who will be England's main rivals]. 

"I think Spain are fantastic with the way they play football, the way they move the ball about. Their midfield is unbelievable. 

"France are fantastic, you can never count out Germany and Sweden have probably got the most balanced team. 

"But England are right up there with all of them."

Rachel Yankey gave her expert view on England's chances during a visit to LiveScore HQ in London
Rachel Yankey gave her expert view on England's chances during a visit to LiveScore HQ in London

As defending champions, the Netherlands will be desperate to go all the way once again. But unlike when they won Euro 2017, they no longer have Wiegman in charge. 

And Yankey insists the tactician's presence in the England dugout could make all the difference. 

She added: "Sarina has given the team a belief and confidence. She seems very relaxed and wants the players to go and express themselves — I think they’ve really taken to that. 

"She also believes in the younger players. When you go into a tournament, I always think it’s great to have a good balance [of youth and experience]. Younger players are fearless."

England kick off their bid for glory against Austria at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. 

And with all eyes on how the hosts fare in Group A, Yankey and England fans across the country will be hoping Euro 2022 creates a lasting legacy for the women's game. 

Rachel Yankey OBE will deliver her expert insight throughout Women's Euro 2022 as LiveScore's exclusive columnist. 

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EnglandWomen’s Euro 2022
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