Fran Kirby has spoken of his hopes for England’s performances and his own build up to Euro 2022 after the hosts opened their campaign with Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Austria.
The opening curtain of the tournament at Old Trafford, which had a competition-record attendance of 68,871, saw the Lionesses claim three points thanks to Beth Mead’s 16th-minute finish off a Kirby pass.
Later attempts to increase the lead included Ellen White’s header deflected from a good position and a Lauren Hemp effort that was well saved by Manuela Zinsberger, whose counterpart Mary Earps made a couple of saves in the final quarter of the game as the Sarina Wiegman’s side. saw victory.
Kirby said: “I think it was positive, I think it was important to get the first three points.
“We know that we have to improve throughout the tournament. But Austria is a good team, they have some really good players playing for some of the best teams, so I think overall we are happy with the performance and hopefully we can build on that.
“We know we can play better…but I’m excited to see how much we can build throughout this tournament and continue to grow as a team.”
Kirby returned to action in all three of England’s warm-up matches last month having previously not played in a match since February due to a fatigue-related problem.
The Chelsea striker said: “I feel great. I think every game I’ve been in, my performance has grown. It takes a little time to get used to the international level again.
“Before Christmas I was playing my best football so I’m just trying to focus on how I was playing then and hopefully bring it.
“I still know that my performance is not at the level that I want it to be. I want to make sure we keep building it; I’d rather peak in the final than in the first game. So I hope I can continue to do that.”
Kirby described the atmosphere generated by the record crowd in Manchester as “unbelievable”.
“When we went out for the warm-up, it was very, very special,” the 29-year-old said.
“You go out to do the lineups and you hear everyone sing the national anthem and you get goosebumps. It’s a moment I definitely won’t forget for a long, long time.”
Kirby added: “I think our priority is to win the tournament and also to show the boys and girls that these things can be achieved, playing in front of 70,000 people at Old Trafford.
“When I was a child, I never imagined that this was possible. I think anything that helps grow the game in this country and around the world is a positive thing, regardless of whether we win or not.”
Kirby also emphasized, regarding England being among the tournament favourites, that “no game is going to be easy in this competition… no one is going to give us this trophy, no one wants us to win it at home, everyone has that,” he added. fuel to beat us because we’re at home. We have to take each match as it comes”.
England midfielder Georgia Stanway, named player of the match on Wednesday, said when asked what the best part of the night had been: “I think the noise, although it was hard to hear information, it was hard to hear from the side, it was… It was hard to hear Keira (Walsh) yelling at me from behind!
“But I think the noise, that just shows where we are. That’s the standard that the fans have set, and we need it in every game. Bring in the noise, and you can shake up the opposition.”
England’s Group A matches continue with games against Norway at the Amex Stadium on Monday and then Northern Ireland at St Mary’s four days later, both sold out.
Among the crowd at Wednesday’s match were Manchester United’s David De Gea and Harry Maguire, who wrote on Twitter: “A winning start, what an atmosphere at Old Trafford. Well done Lionesses.”