Sarina Wiegman's First England Squad Since World Cup: Changes and Expectations

9 months ago

Sarina Wiegman, at the helm of the England Women's National Team, has unveiled her first squad since the dramatic Women's World Cup final loss to Spain. As the Lionesses gear up for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Wiegman has introduced some significant changes to the lineup, keeping the team's competitive spirit alive. In this article, we delve into the alterations, notable inclusions, and the challenges ahead as England prepares to embark on their journey towards the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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Despite the quick turnaround since the Women's World Cup, the majority of the squad remains unchanged. An impressive 21 of the 23 players who represented England in the World Cup have been retained. The players have had little rest, immediately diving into pre-season preparations ahead of the Women's Super League (WSL). This demanding schedule reflects the growth of the women's game but also poses a challenge of player fatigue, as noted by Wiegman herself.

New Format, New Challenge

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The Nations League format is a fresh introduction to women's football, and England finds themselves in Group D alongside Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scotland. The primary goal is to secure the group's top position and subsequently win a semi-final against another group winner, guaranteeing qualification for the summer Olympics.

Keira Walsh and Bethany England, two prominent names, will miss the Nations League due to injuries. Walsh's absence is attributed to a calf injury, unrelated to her previous knee injury from the World Cup. Tottenham striker Bethany England is unavailable after undergoing hip surgery, keeping her out for an extended period, including the group stage of the Nations League.

To bolster the midfield, Lucy Staniforth and Jess Park make their return to the squad, offering much-needed depth. Park, who narrowly missed out on the World Cup due to a shoulder injury, is now fit to contribute both upfront and in midfield. Maya Le Tissier, who was on standby for the World Cup squad, returns to provide depth in defense, capable of playing as both a center-back and right-back.

Unfortunately, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead won't be joining the squad this time. Kirby, recovering from a knee injury that ruled her out of the World Cup, is not yet ready for international duty. Mead, despite her Euro 2022 success, remains unavailable for selection due to her lack of playing time at the club level.

With the UEFA Nations League just around the corner, Wiegman's revamped 24-player squad faces the challenge of securing qualification for the 2024 Olympics. As England embarks on this new journey, there's anticipation and excitement in the air, coupled with the determination to excel on the international stage once again.

In summary, Sarina Wiegman's selection reflects the evolving nature of women's football, with established stars and rising talents coming together to take on new challenges. The squad is poised to make a mark in the Nations League and build towards Olympic qualification, keeping fans eagerly awaiting the upcoming matches.

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