Sophie Bradley impressed by new boss Sampson

Thursday 16 Jan 2014
England defender Laura Bassett is looking forward to playing for Mark Sampson.
Sophie Bradley says she has embraced England Women’s new management team ahead of the opening international of 2014.

New Head Coach Mark Sampson and his assistant manager Marieanne Spacey have taken a 30-strong squad to La Manga for a week of warm-weather training, culminating in a match against Euro 2013 runners-up Norway.

And Bradley has relished working with the new regime in Spain.

She said: “I suppose it’s a fresh start for everyone now that the new management’s in place.

“It was exciting and I suppose a little bit nervy for everyone coming into it with it being different management, but so far, so good -  it’s been really enjoyable.

“It’s nice to get to know [Sampson] as a person, and on the training pitch there’s been a lot of fun involved. It’s been quite a laugh.

England women put through their paces in La Manga


“He’s letting us play for him to see what we’re all about, for us to see what he’s all about [and] what he wants from us.

“He says we’re here for a reason – we’re good enough, that’s why we got picked and just show him what we can do.

“And just relax. I think that’s the biggest part. As players we put ourselves under so much pressure because we want to perform, we want to be in the starting eleven. He keeps reinforces that if you relax then that’s probably when you’ll play the best.”

The defender is looking forward to facing Norway, traditionally one of the strongest nations in the women’s game, on Friday. The Scandinavians won the World Cup in 1995 and are two-time European Champions, now ranked eighth in the world.

Bradley added: “It will be a massive test for all of us but I think that’s probably what we want.

“You want to be playing the best teams to compare yourself and see where you’re at.

“To play them at this time of year when we’re still in our pre-season will be a good [marker] to see where we need to get to.

“Playing against good opposition like Norway, it should be a good challenge for us all.”

Bradley helped England achieve four wins from four in their opening World Cup qualifiers last year under the temporary guidance of Brent Hills.

And with the Cyprus Cup approaching in March, as well as the remaining qualifiers, she outlined her hopes for 2014.

She said: “Hopefully we carry on with the World Cup qualifiers. So far, so good.

“We’ve got 12 points from the last four games so we’ve been doing really well and we need to maintain that.

“There are new girls that Mark and Marieanne have brought in so it’s nice to have new faces around.

“As a team we want to keep progressing and enjoy it as well.”

By Glenn Lavery