SAINTS Women’s star Laura Rafferty insisted it would be “amazing” to see St Mary’s packed for her country’s European Championship group games – as she bids to make Northern Ireland’s final tournament squad.

The former Chelsea and Brighton defender, who was born in Southampton, could be set to feature in Northern Ireland’s friendly against Belgium at Herman Vanderpoorten Stadium tomorrow (7pm).

She is part of a 24-person squad picked by boss Kenny Shiels for the contest, with only 23 players set for the Women’s Euros next month.

The tournament is even more special for Rafferty, with all three of Northern Ireland’s group games against Norway (July 7), Austria (July 11) and England (July 15), set to be held at St Mary’s.

Speaking to The Irish News ahead of this week’s friendly, Rafferty said: “Rumour has it that Southampton are doing quite well with their ticket selling, so St Mary's is probably going to be packed, which is amazing.

“The more you do it and you play in front of people and fans, you can focus on the one thing.

“It’s why I do meditation, because you have to be aware when you play football but you also have to focus and those are two opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Rafferty qualifies to represent Northern Ireland, with her father hailing from Belfast. She made her debut for the senior squad in 2013 and has amassed 26 caps.

Quizzed on the wait to find out who has made the Euros squad, the 26-year-old added: “For me, I’m very positive that whoever Kenny picks will put their best foot forward.

“You know, I'm a player, but I'm also a massive supporter of Northern Ireland women.

“I've been here for the past 10 years playing with the senior squad and the underage teams, and the fact of the achievement that we've got this far is an honour anyway.

“So, yeah, of course you want to be part of it in terms of being a player, but for me, I'll always be a part of it because I’m Northern Ireland, so and it's for all of us, not just the players.”

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