Fran Kirby admits she had to block out any fear of missing out on the Euros after winning the fitness race for England.
The Chelsea striker was included in the Liones squad for the following month’s home tournament despite not having played for the Blues since February.
She battled extreme fatigue and had an oxygen tent set up at her home to help her recover and eventually secure a place in Sarina Wigman’s squad.
“I wouldn’t say there was fear, I never had in my heart, ‘Oh my God, now I’m not going to be selected for the Euro’, because I just didn’t focus my energy on feeling like that,” said Kirby, who was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s FA Cup final win over Manchester City last month.
“Going to Chelsea for training, I spoke to (manager) Emma (Hayes) and just said, ‘Look what will happen, it will happen, if I’m ready, I’m ready.’
“I believe that everything happens for a reason, and either I will be part of the team or not. If I show up and I’m not chosen, then at least I’ll know that I’ve done everything.
“It was definitely a relief when you were chosen, but I don’t think you needed to think about it every day because it’s not in your power, it’s all you can do.”
Kirby has been dealing with this problem for about five years and has learned to listen to her body.
Her first minutes since February were coming on as a substitute in last week’s 3-0 win against Belgium at Molineux, and she could also play in Friday’s second warm-up against the Netherlands at Elland Road.
But she admits it can be difficult to deal with as she can’t pinpoint the source of the problem.
“It was extreme fatigue and extreme exhaustion. There was talk of inefficiency fatigue syndrome, so there were a lot of things thrown out here and there,” said the 28-year-old, who has 15 goals in 54 games.
“It wasn’t like a brain scan to show that you were dealing with a certain thing, so I had to work a lot with different psychologists to get different ideas, work with different specialists in terms of nutrition and recovery.
“I had an oxygen tent set up in my house, so I was just looking into different things that could help, and it opened my eyes not only to the recovery that you can see, but to the other aspects that come with it.
“Throughout my career, I have learned many different things on my journey.
“It’s troubling (not being able to find the ultimate problem) but I’m learning every time. This is something I’ve dealt with for probably five of the six years of my career, not something that just happened in February.
“It’s a constant feeling that I’ve been having, so now I’ve kind of learned what triggers are when I start to feel a certain way and how I can prevent it.
“It’s not something I can control. I have to make sacrifices and make decisions.
“It definitely opened my eyes a lot more in terms of the fact that it’s really important to listen to your body and when you need to take a break, you take a break and really benefit from it.”
Kirby also had the support of Wigman’s boss and showed her manager’s trust in her by earning a grade while training at St. George’s Park.
“It’s more of a relief for me. It’s been a journey, especially in the last few months, but I think once I started feeling better, I started training every day to be ready for when Sarina announces her roster,” she said.
“This (casting) was one of those where you sit and wait for your phone to light up to say ‘come into the room’, a bit like The X Factor.
“I walked in and saw her smiling so I thought ‘OK, I hope she’s not smiling and sending me home.’
“She told me that she knew from the beginning that I would be an important part of this team and we had some really honest conversations leading up to that.
“I told her, ‘I need you to be honest with me, and I’ll be honest with you, if we both feel like I’m not ready, then we’ll make that decision.’
“Obviously it was a good conversation and two weeks before the Euros she saw me growing in the team and I trained and I didn’t really feel like I was missing so it’s always a good feeling.”