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‘Life isn’t easy’: Mary Earps says England will learn from defeat by Belgium

Mary Earps says “great teams are made” by defeats and that the Lionesses will learn from their 3-2 loss against Belgium, the first time they have conceded three goals under Sarina Wiegman.

“You learn a lot from defeat,” said the England goalkeeper. “That’s how great teams are made. Life isn’t easy, football isn’t easy. If it was, we would all be gold medalists. That’s just not how life works, that’s not how football works. You have to earn it. I think we are working hard but we have to find a way to win – and we are just missing that at the minute.”

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England dominated back-to-back Nations League games against the Red Flames but struggled to capitalise on their chances, securing a narrow 1-0 win in Leicester last Friday before losing in Leuven having been 2-1 up. “Obviously we will have to review it,” said Earps, who was fifth in the voting for the Ballon d’Or, England’s highest-ranked player.

“We got caught in transition a few times, turning the ball over cheap. That would probably be my immediate reaction, but I think it is many things. There is a lot of little things that didn’t quite go right and as a team we have to get those details right at this level, because you get punished.”

The loss means progress from the group is now out of England’s hands, and with the two Nations League finalists earning a place at the Paris Olympics, Team GB’s qualification chances are under threat. But Earps said that is not their priority at the moment. “I don’t think that is what we are really focusing on right now,” she said. “We are focusing on processing what happened tonight, review it, learn and just focus on winning our next two games as we would. So, just business as usual.”

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Asked if the introduction of the Nations League, meaning England playing competitive fixtures straight after a World Cup, was a wake-up call, Earps said: “I don’t think it is. I think we are elite athletes, we want to be playing at the top, we want to be playing in competitive games, we want to be competing at a high level all the time.

“Naturally, life kind of ebbs and flows. You are not always going to be at the top of your game all the time. How many times do you say the great teams find a way to win even when they are not playing well? We have done that previously. Sometimes that keeps everybody happy, if you know what I mean. I don’t think it is anything to panic about … it is just the reality of football. We know we can be better and that’s a good thing.”

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England next face the Netherlands at Wembley on 1 December before playing Scotland at Hampden Park four days later and they must win both to have any hope of topping the group. “Of course we hope [playing at Wembley again is a boost], but history is irrelevant. It’s about delivering on the day. But I have no doubt the England fans will get behind us in big numbers and be a really key factor in us hopefully getting over the line.”

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