Hemp eyes 50th cap in crucial Lionesses match

England forward Lauren Hemp says it would be “incredible” to win her 50th cap at Wembley Stadium in the Women’s Nations League on Friday.

The Lionesses take on the Netherlands knowing they must win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics on behalf of Team GB.

Sarina Wiegman’s side are currently third in their group, three points below leaders the Netherlands.

“There’s no better place than Wembley [to win my 50th cap],” said Hemp.

“It’s pretty surreal. Every cap is special to me but obviously to make 50 would be incredible. If you had told me when I was younger that at the age of 23 I would have 50 caps, I wouldn’t have believed you.

“It will be an amazing occasion for me to be able to do that but we’ll have to wait and see.”

It is a big stage for Hemp to make a milestone appearance given what is at stake, but the Manchester City winger says she has fond memories of success at Wembley and will draw on those experiences for confidence.

“Looking back at every one of the big games I’ve had, a lot of them have come at Wembley,” said Hemp.

“The Euros final stands out to me, the Finalissima game against Brazil which we won and got another trophy – and then beating the USA as well.

“There’s a lot at stake. We know as a group what’s expected of us. When it comes to it and when we’re put under pressure, a lot of the time, we do the job. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that tomorrow.”

Hemp referenced former Lionesses Karen Carney, Jill Scott and Ellen White as significant people who have helped her in her international career, and hopes to follow in their footsteps and make 100 appearances for England.

“That’s the dream. I work hard for every cap that I get. To make 50 is the first step and every one after that is a bonus,” added Hemp.

“It’s exciting to think about what I could achieve in the future but I need to take every game as it comes.

“Every year I grow in confidence. I play my best football when I’m relaxed. There have been a lot of big games and standout moments for me over the last few years that I feel like I’ve really thrived in. Hopefully there will be many more of those in the future.”

‘The team is ready’ says Wiegman

England will be without Chelsea centre-back Millie Bright for Friday’s showdown at Wembley, with manager Wiegman confirming goalkeeper Mary Earps will captain the side in her absence.

With two games remaining in the Women’s Nations League group stages, England must beat the Netherlands and Scotland to secure top spot in Group A1.

England are the nominated nation on behalf of Team GB to qualify for the Olympics, but they must finish in the top two of the Women’s Nations League – or third if hosts France reach the competition’s final.

Wiegman hopes her side will draw confidence from previous success at Wembley, which includes their historic Euro 2022 final victory over Germany.

“I think it’s really good to have experiences. It’s not all new. That helps top athletes to perform at the highest level,” said Wiegman.

“Lots of players have been there and done it. That absolutely helps. Hopefully you are coming into circumstances you have been in before and you know what to do and how to play. It’s all recognisable.

“I think the team is ready. We’re really excited to play at Wembley. We’re very clear on how we want to play and what we want to do and I see good things on and off the pitch, and that gives me confidence that we’re really ready.”

Hemp was part of the Team GB squad that played at the Tokyo Olympic Games and says the whole team have “desire” to qualify for the tournament again.

“I want to experience it again. I want to be at major tournaments every single year. We have seen what we can achieve as an England group,” added Hemp.

“We all have that desire and we know what’s expected and what’s at stake for us.”