Demi's character shines through after World Cup setback

Friday 03 Jun 2016
Demi Stokes has featured in nine of England's last 10 matches
It speaks volumes of Demi Stokes’s attitude that since missing out on the England squad for last year’s World Cup, only two players have made more appearances for the Lionesses.

The 24-year-old Manchester City defender played in four World Cup qualifiers but head coach Mark Sampson opted for Claire Rafferty and Alex Greenwood as his two left-backs for Canada 2015.

England v Serbia

UEFA Women's Euro 2017 Qualifier
Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers
5.30pm, Saturday 4 June
Tickets priced £7.50 adults, £3.50 children

But Stokes didn’t let her head drop and was handed a starting place for the 8-0 drubbing of Estonia last September, England’s first match after winning bronze across the pond.

“If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve done anything different to what I’ve always done,” she said.

“I haven’t trained any differently to what I always used to do. I’ve just kept my head down like I’ve always done and tried to work hard to improve my game.

“If I’d have moaned about the World Cup, or sulked, or let it affect me, that wouldn’t have done me any good. So it was just about dusting myself down and getting on with it.

Highlights: Bosnia 0-1 England

“I did everything I could to be selected for the World Cup and if I wasn’t what Mark needed at that time then I’m OK with that.

“But I feel in a good place. Everything seems to be going well for me, which is nice. I feel like my performance levels have gone up too.”

Stokes has been one of her country’s most in-form players this season. She has featured in nine of England’s 10 matches since Canada, only Steph Houghton and Jill Scott have played in every one, and was named player of the match in the 1-0 win over Australia last October.

Sampson handed Stokes the No11 jersey for six of those matches, a nod to her formative years as a forward.

She takes that as a compliment from her manager, that he trusts her to do a job further forward, and says she has put her social life on hold in order to succeed in the Three Lions jersey.

Highlights: England 1-1 Belgium

Stokes added: “I am determined to do well for England. I don’t want to miss out on the Euros and I’m just trying to do everything I can to give myself a chance of being selected.

“For example, when I get a day off at City I don’t do anything. I come home from the club, do my recovery and just sit in the house.

“I don’t travel back home or anything because I want to make sure I’m properly rested. If that means less travelling so that I’ve got more time for recovery then so be it.”

Stokes started on the left of a front three for England’s last home match, a 1-1 draw with Belgium in Euro 2017 qualifying.

She was disappointed she couldn’t help her team-mates claim a victory that night, and said the whole squad was frustrated they couldn’t beat Bosnia by more than the solitary goal four days later.

But now the FA WSL season is well under way and players are fully match-fit, the South Shields native believes fans will see a much-improved performance from England in the Euro qualifying double-header against Serbia.

She explained: “We will get better, I’m sure of that. Training so far this week has been really good. 

"I think we have reacted well from the last get-together because we were disappointed to draw with Belgium.

“Everyone has used the last two matches as motivation to be better this time around. Everyone has been brilliant this week, the tempo has been excellent and I’m sure we will bring that into the next two games.

“If we do then I’m sure we will get two good wins.”

Tickets for the Serbia match at Wycombe on Saturday are still available, priced £7.50 for adults and £3.50 for children. A family ticket priced £15 (two adults and two children) is also available.

Tickets can be bought via or by calling 01494 441 118

By Glenn Lavery at St. George's Park