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Day 21: Does Hemp still have time to shine?
Regardless of how her Euro 2022 finishes, she will have plenty more opportunities to show what she can do in an England shirt
Lauren Hemp was expected to be one of the break out stars at Euro 2022. The 21 year old was coming off the back of a season where she had doubled her goals tally and picked up yet another ‘Lauren Hemp’ award (that’s the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year Award for anyone who missed her previous three wins of the trophy). In a tough season for Manchester City, Hemp was often the highlight, at times almost hauling her team into a Champions League place.
Despite Euro 2022 being Hemp’s first international tournament for England, she was one of only a handful of absolutely guaranteed starters under Sarina Wiegman. It is hardly surprising; she has the potential to be a generational talent for England in the future. But Euro 2022 has not been the break out moment for her the way many thought it could be.
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It is not that Hemp hasn’t contributed - given the sheer amount of goals England have scored it is hard to suggest any player from the starting attackers hasn’t - but we have not seen the Hemp that we expected to see. Hemp is a well-rounded player but she is at her electrifying best when she is taking players on and running with the ball. But there has been a curious lack of that this tournament. In fact, Millie Bright has as many shot-ending carries as Lauren Hemp does - 2.
It is hard to tell if this is something to do with Hemp herself or on Wiegman’s request. Certainly the controlled way England like to play under Wiegman does not obviously extend to lung busting runs which might leave you out of position were they to go wrong. Not to mention that Wiegman has regularly switched Beth Mead and Hemp between flanks. Whilst Hemp is certainly still good on the right, it is understandably not as easy for her to take players on on the outside when she is inverted.
If there is one person who believes in Lauren Hemp, it is Sarina Wiegman. Against Spain, she was the only one of the original attacking line up to last beyond the 65th minute, as Ellen White, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead all made way. She will certainly start again tonight against Sweden and might potentially get more joy. Ona Batlle was excellent defending against Hemp in the quarter-final but Hanna Glas (who is returning from having had COVID-19 so might not start or play the full match) was caught out a couple of times in Sweden’s opener against The Netherlands.
In international tournaments, one excellent performance can be enough to live long in the memory. With certainly one, and potentially two, more games to play, there is still time for Lauren Hemp to firmly make her mark on Euro 2022. Regardless of how this tournament plays out though, there is much more time to for her to shine in an England shirt. This is still only the beginning.