Former England youth international Aoife Mannion receives first Ireland call up
Aoife Mannion has received her maiden call up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad ahead of the February international camp.
Ireland face China during the upcoming international break as preparations for their first ever World Cup step up.
Manager Vera Pauw admitted in December her side’s historic qualification for this summer’s showpiece event in Australia and New Zealand had resulted in contact being made by a number of dual-qualified players. She confirmed that Mannion was among them, and that her eligibility was being dealt with.
The Manchester United defender was born in Solihull to Irish parents, and has represented England at various youth levels. She was twice called up for England by Phil Neville in 2019, but remained an unused substitute over the course of four fixtures.
Mannion returned to the United bench towards the end of 2022, following her comeback from an ACL injury. It was the second injury of such nature the defender had suffered in the space of three years.
“After we qualified there were a lot putting their names in, but we will only use them if they have a very strong relationship with Ireland,” Pauw told The Green Machine Podcast last year. “Aoife’s parents were born in Ireland, she will be in Ireland for Christmas and new year with her grandparents, so there is a very strong connection there.
“But players who now jump in and think, ‘Oh, I’ve got a granny somewhere, I’ll get a passport and then I’ll play for Ireland,’ we don’t [go] for that, unless they are really, really good. If they are equal level, then I will choose the players who have done it, of course. This bond that we have, you can only keep it if there is that trust. But every single player would want someone who could make us stronger to come in.”
Ireland qualified for their first ever World Cup in October thanks to a 1-0 victory over Scotland in the playoffs. Pauw’s side have been drawn in a group alongside Australia, Canada and Nigeria.
They will play hosts Australia in their opening group game – the fixture has already been moved from the 42,000 seater Allianz Stadium to the 82,500 capacity Stadium Australia to meet ticket demand.
England will be considered failures if we don’t win Euro 2024
England defender Harry Maguire has revealed he will head to Euro 2024 with the mindset that anything less than winning the competition will be a failure.
The Three Lions have cemented their status as a strong tournament team over the last half-decade under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.
After reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2018, England were only denied victory at Euro 2020 on penalties against Italy in the final.
There were high hopes that they could go all the way at the 2022 World Cup over the winter, but were narrowly beaten by reigning champions France in a hard-fought quarter-final.
England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Italy, and speaking to the press post-match, Maguire revealed his ambitions for glory in Germany next summer.
“I think for me, at my age as well, 30 years old now, I’m with a mindset of, ‘If we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” he said.
“We’ve got to qualify first – I mean it’s a tough group, [but] we’ve come here and got an amazing result.
“But that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. I believe we have the players to win it. We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament. So ultimately, when we get knocked out, as a squad we’re disappointed. The performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets at the tournament, we were one of the top goalscorers despite going out in the quarter-final.
“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed [on as manager]. We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. He’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and, for sure, it benefits us for us for him to be in charge.
“These big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them ten times, we would give them a good game ten times and probably win more than we lose.
“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So it’s something that we’re working on. We have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”
Maguire recognised that England were simply beaten at the 2022 World Cup by a more experienced and successful international side in France.
Despite reservations over Didier Deschamps, the 54-year-old has an incredible tournament record – to have won one final and lost two others is a far better record than most other coaches in the history of football.
England hope to be on a similar path with Southgate, but as Maguire insisted, they need to win a tournament if they’re to be remembered fondly and without tinges of regret.
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