Debutant Parris eager to seal regular England spot

Sunday 05 Jun 2016
Nikita Parris has represented England at every age level
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Nikita Parris has targeted a regular place in the England squad after making her debut in the 7-0 win over Serbia on Saturday.

The 22-year-old former youth team star replaced fellow debutant Rachel Daly in the 57th minute of the Lionesses’ Euro 2017 qualifying victory in Wycombe.

And Parris’s introduction allowed her to realise a lifelong ambition.

Serbia v England

UEFA Women's Euro 2017
Group 7 qualifier
4pm BST, Tuesday 7 June 2016
Serbia FA Sports Centre, Stara Pazova

She said: “It’s obviously something that I’ve always wanted to do and it was a great moment for me, my family and anyone who has helped me get where I am today.

“There was no real pressure when I came on in terms of the result. We were winning comfortably and we got more goals when I was on the pitch so it was happy days. I was happy with my contribution. I’ll always work hard on the pitch and I feel like I did that.

“It’s what you work towards when you’re in the youth set-up. You always think of the bigger picture.

“It was always a dream of mine and now it has become a reality.

“Now I just want to continue on this journey. I’ll keep working hard and hopefully I can keep taking my opportunities when they come.”

Having scored goals for every England development team, and helped the U19s finish runners-up in the 2014 Euros, Parris was called into the senior squad for the first time for the 1-0 win in Bosnia in April, although she wasn’t named in the matchday 18.

She is one of seven Manchester City players in Mark Sampson’s squad and she said that familiarity has helped her settle.

Parris explained: “It’s been easier to blend in because I know a lot of the girls from City.

“Laura Bassett has been a blessing in disguise as well. She’s helped me all the way. She’ll tell me what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong and is always giving me advice. She’s been brilliant with me.”

And Parris reserved a word of thanks for the coaches who aided her development.

She said: “I can’t thank them all enough, especially [England Women's U19s and U20s head coach] Mo Marley and Andy Spence at Everton.

“Mo didn’t just teach me how to be a football player; she taught me how to be a person.

“I’ll always say that Mo is my mother in football.”

By Glenn Lavery in Belgrade, Serbia