England youngsters ready to impress Sarina Wiegman as Lionesses face Japan
Injuries and illness means some of England’s young stars have the chance to impress Sarina Wiegman in tonight’s friendly match against Japan.
Wiegman operated an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach as she selected the same line-up for all of England’s European Championship games en route to the trophy, but is without five of her Euros starters in Murcia.
Manchester City duo Alex Greenwood and Lauren Hemp have withdrawn from the camp with injuries, with Fran Kirby also pulling out due to a viral infection only months after recovering from extreme fatigue.
Lucy Bronze is ruled out of the game in Murcia having tested positive for Covid and could return against Norway on Tuesday, while England’s leading scorer Ellen White retired in August.
On only her first camp with England, Manchester United ’s Maya Le Tissier could make her Lionesses debut, with youngsters Niamh Charles and Esme Morgan also in the frame to fill in for Bronze at right back.
“It’s not the World Cup yet. It’s still preparation and it’s good to see other players too,” the two-time European Championship-winning manager said.
“It gives the opportunity to other players to play and to be part of the team, and for us the opportunity to see where they are at and how they compete with the players who have been in the team for a long time.”
Everton ’s Gabby George was called up as a replacement following the withdrawal of Hemp and Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs, who was ruled out of the Euros with a serious knee injury and is back on the injury list with a minor issue.
George’s clubmate Jess Park came in to replace Kirby after excelling for the Toffees having joined them on loan from Man City.
Players are in the middle of three major international tournaments in three years with Team GB’s quarter-final finish at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 followed by European Championship glory this summer.
It is now full steam ahead to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
February’s Arnold Clark Cup will form a key part of England’s preparation and they will face South Korea, Italy and Belgium in defence of their title.
She added: “We know that there’s tournament, tournament, tournament and it’s good to have tournaments and to have your best players available,”
“But they also need some rest – they’re not robots – and there hasn’t been that much rest for players. We, with clubs too, are managing players.
“We have this programme and we do individual adjustments to keep players fit.”
Photo by Emma Simpson – Everton FC/Everton
The former Netherlands manager also gave her view on England’s diversity problem, believing that the FA is committed to increasing the number of minority ethnic players. “I would love to see more black players in the team,” she said. “For me, with the senior squad, the process is done already, so I pick the best players – whoever that is, I’ll pick the best players to perform. “But I do think we need to do more and the FA is doing more, to give access to everyone that wants to play football.”
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