Five years after her last cap, Laura Coombs opens up on her England squad recall

It'd been more than five years since Laura Coombs last received a call-up to the England Women's senior squad before Phil Neville announced his final training camp of 2020. The 29-year-old was last involved under Mark Sampson as England faced China and Australia in the China Cup, although her playing time was restricted to just a couple of minutes in both games. Since then Coombs has moved from Chelsea to Manchester City via Liverpool but was beginning to lose hope she’d ever pull on the Lionesses jersey again. However, her standout performances for City this season caught the eye of Neville, who included Coombs in his 29-strong November training camp squad.

Friday 27 Nov 2020
Laura Coombs has been back with the Lionesses squad for the first time since 2015's trip to China

I was just driving back from training last week when I had a few missed calls from a number I didn’t recognise.

They called again and eventually I picked up. He just said: “Hello, it’s Phil Neville, England head coach here” and immediately I was a bit nervous but also very excited.

I didn’t want to presume obviously, but a couple of people have said to me I might be in the frame and I know I’ve been playing well the last few games, but you should never presume.

It obviously hasn’t happened for me with England for a long time now but I’m very proud because it crossed my mind that maybe it was never going to happen again.

I don’t actually remember getting a call last time - I think it was just an email back then but it was a privilege to be involved, just as it is now.


A big part of me moving to Manchester City was to give myself the best opportunity of getting back in with England, so it was very hard to see players going off to every camp.

There were times over the last few years where I’ve been playing well and thought I might get a look in and it still didn’t happen.

Then you start to think it might not happen and I was coming around to that, but this just proves that you really should never give up.

It was always something to work towards but now it feels really quite natural for me to be here because I have a dozen teammates here with me.

I feel like an adult now whereas five years ago, I very much felt like a young player.

I’m settled in my house, I have the right people around me and I’m probably in a better place in terms of my career.

Coombs is part of a 29-player training squad at St. George's Park this month

When you come down the driveway at St. George's Park, all those memories come flooding back. It’s an amazing facility and the best place for any footballer in the country to be.

I know this is just a training camp but I'm really enjoying pitching myself against the other top players in my position.

Phil definitely has a tough job whittling down the squad when he needs to, because there are some very talented players here.

I’ve played against the Manchester United girls a fair bit recently and Lauren James is especially one to watch with her pace and power - she’s really one to look out for in the future.

But the call-up is reassurance for me that I am doing the right thing at club level but I haven’t really set myself any targets yet.

I just need to do the best that I can while I’m here but I know that it’s out of my control as to whether I get called back so I just plan to leave it all out there and see what happens.

By Laura Coombs England Women's and Manchester City player