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Karen Carney: 'England need to improve mentality and fitness'

Karen Carney: 'England need to improve mentality and fitness'
© Reuters
The 31-year-old represented her country at four World Cups.

Karen Carney believes a change of mentality and improved fitness levels are required for England Women to end their wait for silverware.

The Lionesses were eliminated at the semi-final stage for the third-successive major tournament after suffering World Cup defeat to eventual winners the United States.

Experienced winger Carney, who retired from football after the competition in France, thinks repeatedly falling short can drive the team on.

THANK YOU #Lionesses pic.twitter.com/FXudfRYVym

— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 7, 2019

"Hand on my heart, there were areas that we can improve on, that's what keeps you going, that excitement knowing we got that far, we're that close but we're still that far off to get to that next point," Carney told PA at the launch of EFL on Quest.

"I think probably fitness and probably mentality are the two things that England probably need to change because if you get to three semi-finals for the last three tournaments, there's something perhaps within the mentality that you've got to find. You've got to dig deep to get from a semi-final to a final.

"USA do it, in the past the Germans have done it, and I think you've got to shift that mentality to go and try and get to the final.

"I think that's why it was so difficult losing to USA because we had our focus and our mentality solely on getting to the final and it didn't happen. It was such a blow for us."

Oh no. England can sense an advantage and, with a fully fit team, are too strong for you. The World Cup dream dies before the final. pic.twitter.com/df7UlbyUvq

— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) July 7, 2019

England's last-four exit came after missing a late penalty and having a goal disallowed by VAR in an agonising 2-1 loss which attracted a television audience of 11.7million.

The World Cup was the team's first major tournament under the guidance of head coach Phil Neville.

Carney believes the former Manchester United and Everton player is the right person to lead the Lionesses to a trophy going into Euro 2021 on home soil.

"I don't see why not. He's passionate, he works hard, the players like him, he's a good person and I think that – above football in itself – is more important," she said. "I believe he can.

"I won't be a part of that journey but I sure as hell will be there supporting and being the Lionesses' number one fan and hoping that they do eventually get from a semi-final to a final and bring that gold medal home.

"It's a big couple of years for him now and I wish him all the best."

Former Arsenal, Birmingham and Chelsea player Carney, who won 144 caps for her country, hung up her boots at the age of 31 saying she had "nothing else in the tank".

However, she was keen down to play down the significance of age and believes players aged 30 and above were England's top performers at the World Cup.

"Our best players were the senior players: Karen Bardsley, Steph (Houghton), Jill (Scott), Ellen (White). Age is but just a number and they've got the mentality, they've got the desire, they've got the passion and they'll go on as long as they want to," she said.

"Hopefully the young players will learn from them and push the senior players.

"When you hit 30 people have got his perception that you're past it and I really disagree with that."

Carney is now looking towards a career in the media and also intends to enjoy herself free from the restrictions imposed on professional footballers.

View this post on Instagram

Thanks for the memories France 2019 ❤️

A post shared by Karen Carney (@kazcarney) on

"I want to do skiing, I want to do travelling, I want to backpack," she said.

"I've travelled the world with football but probably in a privileged way. We've travelled and travelling means going from an airport to the pitch to the hotel. I haven't really seen or explored things.

"I would love to do skiing and go with my mates and have a chalet, have a drink, have a good time and just switch off. Or maybe a marathon, or something crazy like that."

:: The first show of the 2019/20 season of EFL on Quest begins at 9pm on Saturday. You can watch free-to-air highlights of the EFL on Freeview channel 12, Freesat channel 167, Sky channel 144 and Virgin channel 217.

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Phil Neville in charge of England on July 2, 2019
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