England may still be reeling from the loss of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley to a tournament-ending injury, but back-up Siobhan Chamberlain insists she can fill the void and provide a safe pair of hands in tomorrow’s Euro semi-final with the Netherlands.
The Lionesses received a major blow earlier this week when it was confirmed Manchester City shot-stopper Bardsley fractured her leg in a collision with captain Steph Houghton during their 1-0 quarter-final win against France.
England’s defence has been rock solid so far, conceding just one goal in four games, and, with the back four containing three of Bardsley’s City teammates, consistency and familiarity has been key.
But Chamberlain is no novice at this level and will face the side she made her debut against in 2004, the first of 45 caps so far, while she famously replaced Bardlsey in the World Cup quarter-final against Canada two years ago.
And the Liverpool ace is adamant she can step up the plate and deliver as Mark Sampson’s side aim to become the first senior England team to win a major trophy since 1966.
“It is about making sure I am prepared,” the 33-year-old said.
“As a goalkeeper you might not be on the pitch to start with but you always prepare like you are going to be, you never know when you might get called upon.
“The World Cup quarter-final and this quarter-final shows that, if you start to relax and think you will not be needed then you will come unstuck.
“I am really looking forward to the game, it is against the host nation of the European Championship so it is going to be an amazing experience and one we can’t wait for.
“Our travelling fans have been amazing, when you look along the side of the pitch and at all the flags and hearing them sing the anthems it gives you goose bumps.
“It’s not just friends and family, it is general fans as well. As for Holland, I went to the opening game with Casey [Stoney] and it was just an unbelievable atmosphere – it was a sea of orange.
“We will embrace that and use that to motivate us.”
England remain the heavy favourites to become champions due the fact they are the only top-ten ranked side left in the competition.
They have the experience of knocking out tournament hosts, having beaten Canada two years ago, with a TV audience expected to reach near four million, the belief is increasing at home and abroad.
But Chamberlain insists that vindicates England’s confidence, with their bullish approach a consistent feature of every press conference and match since they claimed the bronze medal in the World Cup.
“We have come here to win the tournament and if other people are starting to think that too then that is great, but we have always had that belief,” Chamberlain said.
“We said before the tournament started that we have a great chance and now is the chance to take that.”
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