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Jill Scott: Waiting to find out final England squad was like The X Factor

Jill Scott has said she “felt the pressure” ahead of England’s squad announcement last week and expressed how “relieved” she was to be selected by manager Sarina Wiegman.

Scott, who left Manchester City at the end of the season, went on loan to Aston Villa in January 2022 to get more game time in a bid to make her 10th major tournament.

The 35-year-old picked up a knee injury which forced her to miss the last three games of the Women’s Super League campaign but has worked her way back to fitness ahead of this summer’s home European Championship.

“It was more about being relieved last week to be honest — definitely felt the pressure,” she said.

“I think if you look around the team and the 28 that we had, the talent in that group was absolutely massive.

“On Wednesday it was probably one of the worst days of my life to be honest, waiting to hear if you’d got in. That’s just a massive reflection on the talent that we have and it definitely wasn’t one of those routine days where it’s just, ‘Yes, you’re in’.”

Asked about how Wiegman, appointed as England boss in September, went about letting the players know, Scott said: “We were all waiting, a lot of us were having coffees and you’d just get a text saying you had your meeting.

“I think I’d had about three flat whites by mine so I was probably shaking even more by then! She actually said, ‘You look the most nervous I’ve ever seen you look’ and I’m just thinking, ‘Just say yes or no!’

“She just said she believed in me, what I bring on the pitch, it was positive in that sense and if I’m being honest I probably wasn’t listening too much in that moment, I was just waiting to hear if it was yes or no.

“It was a bit like The X Factor, then it was just a sense of relief after that.”

Scott’s former team-mate and England captain Steph Houghton did not make the cut, alongside Manchester United’s Katie Zelem and Lucy Staniforth, Chelsea’s Niamh Charles and Everton’s Sandy MacIver.

“It was a difficult day because you knew players not making it were going to be so disappointed,” Scott said.

“It is hard to be happy when you know your team-mates, players you’ve played with for a long time were going to be so down, so it was a difficult day whatever the decision.”

With 156 caps under her belt, Scott brings a wealth of experience to the side but there is competition for places and no guarantees of how much she will play at this tournament.

“I haven’t had a conversation (with Wiegman) about game time,” she said.

“My expectation is I think I can contribute and then make sure I’m ready if called upon. If I’m being honest, in the Arnold Clark Cup I wasn’t expecting that start against Spain, that was a bit of a shock, suddenly you’re playing and you haven’t played for a while and it’s against the best players in the world, but that was a good challenge for me.

“Am I still at this level? I felt I competed well and it’s just making sure I keep that level if called upon. The talent in midfield is great.

“We’ve got Leah (Williamson), we’ve got Keira (Walsh), I joked about sending Leah back to defence so I’ve got more of a chance!

“She’s done a fantastic job in there. Leah, Keira, Georgia (Stanway), Fran (Kirby), Ella (Toone), the competition is very high, but I hope I can keep pushing them and bring the energy off the pitch in terms of training too.”

England will play the Netherlands at Leeds’ Elland Road on Friday, their penultimate friendly before travelling to Switzerland next week for their last warm-up game.

They face Austria in the Euros’ opener at Old Trafford on July 6, followed by group-stage matches against Norway and Northern Ireland.

(Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

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