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Northern Ireland women ready for ‘special’ night at Wembley

Captain Marissa Callaghan will lead her side out at England’s national stadium.

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels.
Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels.
Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

NORTHERN IRELAND CAPTAIN Marissa Callaghan believes leading her country out at Wembley to play England in the World Cup qualifiers tomorrow night will be “special”.

England and Northern Ireland are two of three teams in their group alongside Austria that have a 100% record after two qualifying matches.

England beat Northern Ireland 6-0 in a friendly in February but Callaghan, who has scored in 4-0 wins over Luxembourg and Latvia in qualifying, believes her side are improving all the time.

“I think every single game that you lead the team out is special, whether it’s St George’s Park in a friendly or whether it’s a qualification, but it’s a special moment every time and it’s really hard to put into words how you feel when you do that,” she said.

“Tomorrow night will be special, it’s incredible and we’ll just go out and enjoy it.

“We’ve had an amazing two years and we’ve just gone from strength to strength and the amazing thing is our young talent is starting to seep through and the experienced players are getting to experience this success, so it’s been amazing to be part of it and I’m just glad to be here and hopefully we can continue with that success.”

Around 30,000 fans are expected to be at Wembley for the game, although it is a far cry from the record 77,768 who watched England play Germany in a friendly in November 2019.

“Obviously Wembley is one of the biggest stadiums in the UK, if not the world, but every game that you prepare for and you play for Northern Ireland is always special and we just look forward to coming into camp and we love learning and preparing for every game,” Callaghan said.

northern-ireland-v-latvia-fifa-womens-world-cup-2023-uefa-qualifier-group-d-windsor-park Marissa Callaghan. Source: PA

“It’s been a brilliant week, the girls are excited, we’re up for it and the staff have us fully prepared for what we’re going to come up against so we’re ready and we can’t wait.”

England will be looking to build on their recent matches in September, when they won 8-0 and 10-0 against North Macedonia and Luxembourg respectively.

Despite that 6-0 friendly defeat at St George’s Park earlier in the year, Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels insists competitive fixtures are altogether different.

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“We don’t win friendlies, we try to use that for our experimental process when we go into qualifiers and important games like this one,” he said.

“All of our emphasis is on winning and as you say it’s important that we learn as we win. It’s important to learn from that.”

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