Bethany England, the England and Chelsea striker from Kingstone, would have loved to have played for her country at Bramall Lane next week but is hoping friends and family can see her do so in the future.
Phil Neville’s side were due to play Norway at Sheffield United’s ground behind closed doors on Tuesday but the match has been cancelled and the squad are instead together at a training camp.
Bethany told the Chronicle: “I would be lying if I said I had been looking forward to this camp because it’s been so manic with Covid cases and restrictions.
“But it has been good to meet up with all the girls and train as a team.
“We can get good training under our belts for ten days and get ready for next year with the Olympics.
“I would have loved to have played for England at Bramall Lane. I am secretly a bit of a Sheffield United fan so it would have been a big one for me.
“But safety comes first and I respect that the Norwegian federation have basically said ‘no’.
“I would have had a lot of friends and family there if it had been played in front of a crowd. But one of the semi-finals of the 2022 European Championships is being held there so hopefully I can play in that which would be amazing.”
England, who has played seven times for her country, was the top-scorer in the Women’s Super League last season as Chelsea won the title as well as the League Cup.
She sustained several injuries after the season ended and has been often used as a substitute so far this season with Chelsea. She has still netted four goals for the Blues who are third in the top flight.
“I have had a bit of shaky start with me not getting many minutes. I had a few injuries in pre-season and I have been playing catch up ever since. I feel fit and fresh so fingers crossed I will play more after the international break.
“It’s been difficult.
“Teams have definitely strengthened and the bigger teams are dropping more points. But we’re still 28 games unbeaten in the league.”
Chelsea, who train at Cobham training ground, were due to play in the League Cup last week but it was cancelled after their opponents London City Lionesses had some positive coronavirus tests.
“We had already topped the group and gone through so it hasn’t changed anything for us.
“But it is difficult with more Covid cases coming into football and a lot of restrictions being put in place.
“We had our Aston Villa league game called off and rearranged. It is slowly creeping in more and more.
“We get tested every week and, if you miss a test, you can’t play.
“We have no contact with the men or the academy for Covid reasons.
“At the training ground, we have a marquee set up instead of changing rooms.
“We can’t eat in the same room and we have to social distance apart from in training.
“But we are lucky that we can train and it hasn’t affected our jobs too much.”
Chelsea, like all professional clubs, are playing behind closed doors.
“It’s not really football without fans in the stadiums and teams are finding it difficult to gain momentum without supporters.
“But there is more TV coverage of women’s football via the FA Player and BT Sport. That’s the best way around it.
“It is more of shame that lower league and grassroots teams have had to stop.”