In her first two games in charge, Sarina Wiegman led the Lionesses to comfortable victories over inferior opposition. They put eight past North Macedonia at St Marys before scoring a further eight over in Luxembourg. This time around, Northern Ireland and Latvia are the teams in question as England seek qualification for the 2023 World Cup. Here is a breakdown of the squad for the pair of upcoming games…
Starting in goal and with Manchester City duo Ellie Roebuck and Karen Bardsley both out injured, the door is left open for others. Mary Earps, who plays her club football in the red half of Manchester, was given the starting shirt by Wiegman last month. Alongside Earps is a young double act of Hannah Hampton (Birmingham City) and Sandy MacIver (Everton). The Toffees may be struggling in the WSL but meanwhile, Birmingham have had a great start to the season under Carla Ward.
The last squad had Hampton waiting in the wings as a back-up but this time around, she has edged out Carly Telford. Moving up into defence and after withdrawing from the last squad with injury, Esme Morgan of Man City remains on the sidelines. The struggling sky-blues are still well represented though, two of which coming in defence. Alex Greenwood and Demi Stokes are both left-backs by trade but the former has also been deployed as a left centre-back in recent times too.
Steph Houghton would normally don the captains’ armband but she, like her club teammates, is out of action currently. Three of the remaining five defenders are of WSL champions Chelsea. Millie Bright is one of the more senior players whilst Niamh Charles and Jess Carter are a pair of youthful fullbacks. Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal) and Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) complete the defensive ranks.
Onto the midfield now and versatility is somewhat of a theme here, just ask Leah Williamson. She broke onto the scene at Arsenal as a defender and she is a very accomplished one at that. So much so that for both the Lionesses and her beloved Gunners, Williamson has been trusted at the heart of midfield too. She is listed as a midfielder here by Wiegman and the Dutch coach even gave her the armband in Houghton’s absence in the last camp.
Williamson’s Arsenal teammate Jordan Nobbs hasn’t been included due to a lack of playing time recently, a Man City trio and a Man United duo filling out the midfield. Jill Scott has long since been a key figure for the Lionesses and on top of that, Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway have risen to prominence on an international level in no time at all. Lucy Staniforth and Katie Zelem feature again too, the last squad was Zelem’s first in fact, but went uncapped and so will be hoping that can change this time around.
Finally, into the attack, and Ebony Salmon of NWSL side Racing Louisville drops out having not got on the field last month. The former Bristol City striker is replaced by Alessia Russo (Man United) who has been eased back into club football following a devastating injury. She may well line-up alongside close friend Ella Toone (Man United), Toone having been on excellent form so far this season. There are eight names in the forwards group, four pairs from each of the big four in the WSL.
WSL Player of the Month Beth Mead and Nikita Parris are that of the league leaders Arsenal. Defending champions Chelsea have the star herself Fran Kirby along with Beth England whilst lastly, Ellen White and Lauren Hemp are the Man City double-act. These qualifiers are more about Wiegman and her players becoming a more cohesive unit than anything else. The results are obviously important on the surface but the quality of opponent should lead to another two convincing victories.