Fran Kirby says England can deliver under pressure at Women's World Cup in France
Kirby: "We have won numerous games against top opposition so people are expecting the best of us now and we have to make sure we live up to that expectation."
Last Updated: 09/05/19 11:06am
Fran Kirby says England are prepared to live up to the pressure of playing as genuine contenders at this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France.
The 25-year-old, who was named in a 23-strong Lionesses squad on Wednesday, will head to her second World Cup as one of Phil Neville's most important players.
England face 2011 winners Japan, rivals Scotland and Argentina in the group stage, aiming to improve on their third-place finish in 2015 when they secured the best finish at a World Cup by a national side of either sex since 1966.
"There is always that pressure now because we are doing well," Kirby told Sky Sports News, when asked about the ever-growing anticipation surrounding the women's game.
"We won the SheBelieves, we have won numerous games against top opposition so people are expecting the best of us now and we have to make sure we live up to that expectation.
"We all play with pressure week-in week-out with our clubs. Playing for big teams you always have pressure.
"When you represent your country there is always going to be pressure, whether you feel it from outside or just within yourself.
"That's what it takes to become a top athlete and to play professional football.
"You need to manage these expectations, manage the pressure and I think we are in a really good space at the moment to be able to do that."
Kirby admits there is an element of unfinished business for her on the World Cup stage after an injury ruled her out of featuring in the knockout stages four years ago in Canada.
The Chelsea forward withdrew from the England squad for two warm-up matches last month with a knee injury and is confident of reaching full fitness in time for their group opener against Scotland on June 9.
"Obviously for me I just want to do well at the World Cup," she said.
"Last time I got off to a good start, making my first start and scoring.
"The injury played a big part going into the rest of the games. I just want to make sure I go there, I am fully fit, ready to go and can compete at the highest level for the games I am needed."