PA Sport

Mark Sampson: England players happy with safety assurances ahead of Euro 2017

Mark Sampson: England players happy with safety assurances ahead of Euro 2017
By PA Sport

17/07/2017 at 22:49Updated 17/07/2017 at 22:56

England manager Mark Sampson insists his players can concentrate on tackling Scotland in their European Championship opener after being reassured about their safety in Holland.

England manager Mark Sampson insists his players can concentrate on tackling Scotland in their European Championship opener after being reassured about their safety in Holland.

The Welshman admitted there was initial concern in the camp following reports that terror groups had called for the tournament to be targeted, including the group match between England and Scotland in Utrecht on Wednesday.

However, Holland's National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism and Security (NCTV) said last week there was no "specific threat" or indication there would be an attempted attack on the event.

The NCTV said it could not "just ignore the call" and following discussions with local authorities and the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) there will be a heightened police presence and tightening on access to stadiums during the championship.

But Sampson and his players have felt comfortable enough to stroll the streets of Utrecht in recent days, taking in the sights of the picturesque city and visiting the tournament fan zone.

It came as a relief to all when the Dutch authorities calmed fears of an assault on the Galgenwaard Stadium.

"That was nice to hear," Sampson said.

"Initially there was shock that that could be the case but we're fortunate with our team that we've got a full-time security officer always with the team, who always amazes me with her level of experience, knowledge and expertise and calm in those situations.

"We've been reassured ever since that moment of our plan and the potential threat and potential risk, and we're completely confident in the security services - that we'll be looked after and we can focus on winning a game of football.

"We're really pleased with the support we've got around the team and the players are in a comfortable place."

Sampson has been keen to avoid being cooped up at the team hotel, with the 34-year-old taking his family out for "coffee and a quiet beer" on Sunday, and spotting several of his players mixing with locals.

He says England are now ready to get their tournament under way, aiming to build on their achievement at the 2015 World Cup, where by beating Germany in the third-place play-off they finished as Europe's leading side.

Germany have won the last six European Championship titles however, so England are battling history as they eye a first continental triumph.

Sampson said: "The feeling at the moment in the camp is one of readiness. The hard work the players have put in during the preparation period and over the last year gives us a feeling we're ready to do something special in this tournament.

"In our hearts we feel like we've got that confidence and we believe we're ready to go and do something big.

"But it's going to be a real tough tournament for us, we know that. We've got six potential real tough games, starting with Scotland, so there is that feeling of readiness and some excitement."

0
0