England’s Mark Sampson shocked over terror plot before Scotland game

• Head coach remaining level-headed despite security concerns
• Scotland are the opening Group D opponents in Euro 2017

Mark Sampson has admitted he and his England squad were “shocked” when they learned their Euro 2017 match against Scotland here on Wednesday could be targeted by terrorists.

Intelligence agencies have intercepted encrypted chatter from Islamic extremists calling for lone wolves to target the Women’s European Football Championship, which began on Sunday in the Netherlands, but local security services have since played down a specific threat in regards to England’s match with Scotland.

They have, however, appreciably tightened policing for the three week-long tournament and Sampson and his team are being fully apprised of developments.

“We’ve been reassured about the potential threat and the potential risk and our plan,” England’s head coach said.

“Our security officer briefed us, she’s been dealing with all the local authorities and the relevant bodies to make sure that we’re informed, we know what we need to do and the information that’s important for us to have.

“Initially there was shock. But ever since that moment we’ve been reassured. We’re completely confident in the security services. We’re confident that we’ll be looked after and can concentrate on winning a game of football.”

There is a balance between taking sensible precautions and creating an overblown sense of alarm but Sampson – who refuses to lock himself and the squad away in their Utrecht hotel – believes England have got it right.

“The players need that information passed on to them in the right way but we’re really pleased with the support we’ve got around the team. The players are in a comfortable place,” he said.

Not that there is any complacency. “We were practising our fire drills two days ago, that’s how diligent we are,” Sampson said. “We’re fortunate we’ve got a full-time security officer always with the team. She always amazes me with her level of experience, knowledge and expertise.

“Her calm in this situation been really great for the players and their families and friends. We’ve been reassured – and I’m never locked up in a hotel. We had a day off yesterday, my family arrived and we had a nice cup of coffee and a quiet beer in the city, which is a beautiful place, very similar to Amsterdam and I saw a load of our girls in the fanzone.”

Now, though, the time for relaxation is over as England prepare to face Scotland ahead of further group D games against Spain in Breda and Portugal in Tilburg. “The feeling in the camp at the moment is that we’re ready to do something special,” said Sampson, whose side are among the favourites. “We believe we’re ready to go and do something big.”