England defender Alex Greenwood says she's prepared for a busy few summers ahead

Friday 19 Feb 2021
Alex Greenwood is one of the most experienced players in the current England squad

Alex Greenwood, one of the most capped players preparing for the Lionesses’ first fixture for 12 months, is fully focused on the prospect of three successive summers of international football.

The next few years are huge for women’s football, especially in England as they prepare to host the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2022 after the GB women's football team compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With the world still in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed events back a year closer to the 2023 World Cup, England’s first game for a year will be televised live on BBC1, a match against fellow home nation Northern Ireland at St George’s Park.

“If you’re not excited for these next few summers then you shouldn’t play football,” said the Manchester City defender.

“There are three years back-to-back of the tournaments that you train all your life to play in.”

England's Alex Greenwood in action during an inter-squad match in 2020

Greenwood is one of just 21 players that interim coach Hege Riise has selected for her first camp in charge, with eyes initially on the aforementioned Olympic games.

Just four games away from her 50th senior England appearance, Greenwood is now preparing for a fresh start following Phil Neville’s departure as head coach earlier this year. 

And she's optimistic that the future is bright for this England team.

“To talk about form when you haven’t played a game for 12 months is slightly unrealistic,” added the versatile defender.

“We’re a different group now, in a different place.

“We'll just get back on the grass as a team and prepare for this game like we would any other. There's an expectation but we have to be realistic because we haven’t played together in 12 months.

“I believe with the players that we’ve got we can start as we mean to go on. We're all focused on the challenges ahead and what’s in store for us over the next 12 months.”

Six months into her time at Manchester City after joining from Olympique Lyonnais last summer, the 27 year old is a player in fine form.

She's helped her new team to second place in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table, enjoying a 3-0 win over her previous club Manchester United last Friday, with ACF Fiorentina to play in the next round of the UEFA Women’s Champions League next month.

And after spending most of her career playing at left-back, she believes a recent switch to centre-back could enhance her chances of booking a seat on the plane to Tokyo in July.

“The position just fell upon me when I signed for City,” explained Greenwood. “In our team it’s quite easy to adapt to both positions.

“My versatility could boost my Olympic chances. It could be used as a positive that I can play at centre-back and left-back.”

With fellow City defenders Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze also a staple part of the England squad, there is a ready-made understanding on international duty.

After being the youngest player in the squad when the Lionesses travelled to the World Cup in Canada in 2015, she's now looking to add more international silverware to her World Cup bronze, as one of the most senior members of the team looking to discover their best form against a Northern Ireland side who are preparing for their Women's EURO 22 play-off.

By Louise Golby Football journalism at the University of Derby