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Nikita Parris not feeling the pressure ahead of her Women’s World Cup debut

The striker was England’s top-scorer in qualifying with six goals.

Nikita Parris is relishing playing at her first World Cup with England Women (Barry Coombs/PA)
Nikita Parris is relishing playing at her first World Cup with England Women (Barry Coombs/PA)

Nikita Parris says she does not feel pressure – but admits it is impossible to know how she will feel when she makes her Women’s World Cup debut.

Parris’ first senior World Cup appearance is set to come on Sunday when the Lionesses open their France 2019 campaign by facing Scotland in Nice.

The 25-year-old was England’s top-scorer in qualifying with six goals, and netted 19 Women’s Super League goals for Manchester City last season.

It was announced in May that she was joining French powerhouses Lyon, and when asked if she felt any more pressure now than she did before the move, Parris said: “To be honest with you, I don’t feel pressure.

“I honestly don’t, because to me, it’s just another game of football, 11 players, a grass pitch.

“Regardless of which side I am on, it’s important you win the game and I’m competitive as anyone. So I want to win every game whether it’s a Sunday league game, a five-a-side tournament or a World Cup qualifier.”

Then asked if she had ever felt nerves, Parris – the WSL’s all-time top-scorer – said: “Not really. I wouldn’t say nerves.

“Obviously everyone has a bit of apprehension of what the game can bring.

“But ultimately I’ve never been to a World Cup, so I don’t know how it’s going to feel.

“So, to me, it’s just another game of football, until I get out in the atmosphere. Obviously (with) the fans and bigger crowds, I won’t know how it feels until I actually get out there and play.

“Hopefully it’s not a negative reaction but I can’t tell you what it is going to be until I’m actually out there.

“But I’ll have team-mates with me (such as) Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, all these people who have been to World Cups before and they have given us pep talks, they’ve told us about their experiences and it’s important they do that for us because about 40-45 per cent of the squad haven’t been to a World Cup before.

“It’s really important we hear about those experiences and see how it goes.”

Parris describes the England camp as a “relaxed environment” and says she is the chief prankster within it – with boss Phil Neville having been on the receiving end when she put salt in his tea.

Regarding the downtime since the squad landed in France on Tuesday, Parris said: “We have a projector in the med room and we watch Netflix together.

“To be honest with you, if it’s me I’m playing ‘knock a door dash’ up the corridor and just messing about, because that’s just me.

“I would say 85 per cent of the squad watch Love Island, but I don’t. When they’re watching Love Island, I’m causing trouble.

“I’m the one who is always bantering. To be fair, Rach Daly and Millie Bright are also up there, and Jill Scott. But I’m the one who probably initiates it all and then everyone else is firing back at me.

“I’ve played some jokes on Phil, but not many, I want to try to keep my place in the squad!

“One thing I’ve done is put salt in his tea instead of sugar. He knew it was me!

“It’s such a relaxed environment. We’re like a family because you spend so much time together, especially in tournaments.

“You put in all the work and when we go out on the training pitch we give it our all, but when we’re back in the hotel we have to chill out.

“Sometimes everyone wants to switch off from football, you try to do something different, and for me it’s jokes.”

PA

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