Yankey: Lionesses can roar through World Cup pressure
Rachel Yankey is backing England to thrive off the new level of expectation that comes with entering the Women's World Cup as European champions.
Sarina Wiegman's side won their first ever major tournament at Euro 2022 and will head into this summer's showpiece in Australia and New Zealand as one of the favourites.
Ex-Lionesses and Arsenal attacker Yankey warned teams will now be out to claim England's scalp Down Under but feels it is something they will use to their advantage.
On their status as continental champions, the retired 129-cap international exclusively told LiveScore: "It makes you a team to beat.
"It makes you stand out a little bit more. Every time someone goes out to play you, they want to beat you because you're the champions.
"You're the ones that are in the lead and they want to knock you off that top spot.
"But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. They can embrace that. It can be a good thing."
Wiegman largely stuck with the same XI during the triumphant European Championship win — a recipe that proved successful.
That will be tested this time around with captain Leah Williamson, last summer's Golden Boot joint-winner Beth Mead and experienced midfielder Fran Kirby all missing the tournament through injury.
Despite their absences adding another obstacle for the Lionesses to overcome, Yankey believes the detail-orientated Dutch coach will ensure whoever takes their place is able to step up.
She added: "The biggest thing for me is when I heard the players speaking about Sarina Wiegman after the Euros win.
"They spoke about how she would explain their roles and their responsibilities, what they brought to the team and how they were going to contribute during the tournament.
"[The players] will definitely know what part they're playing and what their expectations are and that's hugely important when you're in a tournament."
The Will to succeed
Williamson missing the tournament with an ACL injury has been earmarked as a particular blow.
But Yankey is not concerned about a lack of leadership within the dressing room.
The 43-year-old added: "With Leah, she's the captain wearing the armband but what we don't see from the outside is within that camp there will be many, many leaders.
"They'll have been coming together to lead the team through each game.
"Beth Mead obviously had fantastic moments throughout the Euros but there were other players who played equally as well but just maybe didn't score the goals.
"It's an opportunity for other players to come in and have their moment to shine and for the team to feel our support for them from home."
KIND Snacks have created a GIANT message of support for the Lionesses as they head off to Australia for the first game in the tournament. The 100m wide sign was made out of thousands of messages of support from the public, including ex-Lionesses Rachel Yankey and Faye White.