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England have target on back - Mead

Beth Mead

Forward Beth Mead said European champions England "have a target on our back" as they look to turn their Euro 2025 qualifying campaign around.

The Lionesses, who are hoping to defend their European title in Switzerland next year, have had a mixed start in their qualifiers and currently sit third in their group behind France and Sweden.

So far Sarina Wiegman's side have drawn with Sweden, beaten the Republic of Ireland and lost to France, who they play again on Tuesday for the second time in four days.

"You’ve got to beat the best to be the best, and we have a target on our back since winning the Euros," Arsenal's Mead said.

"But we have enough quality in this team to be able to play against any team and beat them. It’s a tough group and some would say it's the group of death but you have to beat the best to be the best."

Mead put England 1-0 up at St James' Park on Friday, before the Lionesses conceded from two poorly defended corners as they lost 2-1.

But the 29-year-old is confident England have what it takes to win in Saint-Etienne.

"When we look at the game it's small margins," she said. "We let in two set pieces, which we pride ourselves massively, on and it's very frustrating.

"If we bring the game we know we can play then we have no reason not to be able to beat this French team."

'We are not going to throw everything overboard'

England must finish first or second in their group to automatically qualify for next summer's tournament, or risk entering two rounds of play-offs later this year.

Despite the high stakes, boss Weigman wouldn't be drawn on calling Tuesday's game a must-win.

"I want to win," she said. "We always want to win games and it would really help us to put us in a better position if we win the game.

"We don't calculate. Of course we absolutely want to win, but if we wouldn't win we still have an opportunity to qualify for the Euros. It's not what we want because we are still going to try and top the group and that means we need a win tomorrow."

Wiegman was criticised after Friday's defeat for her squad selection and lack of rotation within the starting XI.

She believes her side can learn from their mistakes in Newcastle without changing too much.

"We are trying to be unpredictable," she said. "We want to improve our game all the time, in possession and out of possession.

"We have an identity. We are not going to throw everything overboard because we want to be unpredictable for our opponents, because then we are going to be unpredictable for ourselves.

"We want to build on what we already have and do a couple of things better with a couple of little tweaks."