April 24, 2024

Women’s World Cup 2023: What is it like to leave the squad as a standby player?

Lucy Staniforth joined Aston Villa from Manchester United in January and finished the season strongly

That’s the job nobody really wants but somebody has to do it – to be on standby for the World Cup.

Expected to drop all plans and fly around the world in case of injury to one of the unlucky 23 chosen, fewer examples of a team player can be better.

England midfielder Lucy Staniforth was a late addition to boss Sarina Wiegman’s standby list – she was forced to miss a holiday in Ibiza with her mother as she replaces injured Manchester City face Jess Park as one of the Lionesses’ back-up options in Australia this month.

Aston Villa’s Staniforth and Manchester United defender Maya Le Tissier have been with the European champions on the Sunshine Coast, training and helping them prepare for the their opening game with Haiti.

With all the selected Lionesses coming through preparation in one piece and able to take their place in the first match squad, Staniforth and Le Tissier’s time in camp was up.

They were in the stands in Brisbane as England got off to a winning start before the pair flew out to Sydney to begin a tour, following the team as fans.

“I think the overwhelming feeling right now is a bit of sadness and pride,” said Staniforth.

“I’m sad to be leaving the group, the girls and the competition. It was a great experience but, in the end I am very proud of myself.

“It’s a different position to be in – to drop your whole life and everything, and jump at the chance to come and work with the group.

“I’m very proud that I came to him with a great attitude and I hope that I have contributed to the team.”

So what next for Staniforth and Le Tissier?

“I want to cross off a few bucket list things while I’m here,” Staniforth said. “Maya and I are going to Sydney. It’s going to be really cool because obviously the World Cup stuff is going on.

“If you come all this way, you’ve got to make the most of it. We’ve booked the team so that we can [walk on top of the Harbour Bridge] as ‘thank you’.

“But I’m afraid of heights! I’ll just smile and be brave. We’ll do it together. Maya can go first and I’ll watch her!”

‘I’m not done yet’

England squad in Brisbane
The Lionesses were welcomed to Brisbane where they opened their World Cup campaign against Haiti

It must be strange, reuniting with the manager you didn’t pick for the World Cup and helping the players you beat to a place in the squad.

But for Staniforth, it was a bonus few weeks to impress the boss.

“I didn’t want to come into an environment, leave it and nobody noticed you were gone. You always want to try to make a mark,” she said.

“It’s a big credit to the group that’s here and the welcome Sarina gives you. It was a natural thing for me to train and be myself.”

Staniforth hopes to have the opportunity to play in another tournament as well.

The 30-year-old went to the 2019 World Cup but was one of those cut from Wiegman’s preliminary 28-man squad for Euro 2022.

“That’s what was in the back of my mind coming in – you want to take every opportunity you can to insert yourself into Sarina’s plans.

“Hopefully I can continue like I was last season and I’m looking forward to the next internationals.

“I still have a lot more I want to achieve and contribute to this team. I would love to be involved in the future.”

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