Sarina Wiegman admits Maya Le Tissier call was tough as England squad for the 2023 World Cup named

May Le Tissier has been in fine for m for Manchester United but that wasn't enough to make Sarina Wiegman's 23=player squad - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

Sarina Wiegman says omitting Maya Le Tissier from her Women’s World Cup was a “hard call”, after the Manchester United centre-back was surprisingly left out of her 23-player squad. But the head coach says Euros Golden Boot winner Beth Mead’s knee injury meant Mead never really had a chance of making it to the tournament.

In-form Le Tissier, 21, has been an integral part of the Manchester United defence that conceded just 12 goals in 22 Women’s Super League matches this season, and had been widely tipped to make Wiegman’s squad, but was not among the seven defenders in Wiegman’s squad.

“She was really close,” Wiegman said of Le Tissier, who has two senior Lionesses caps and has been placed on standby instead. “That was a hard call. All the defenders we had to think about. We also see her a little bit more as a right full-back, she plays for her club as centre-back and she’s had a very good season for Manchester United. But this is the choice we made.”

Less of a surprise, but nonetheless still a huge loss for England, is the absence of Arsenal’s Mead, who underwent surgery on her ACL in December, and Wiegman, when asked if there was ever a chance for Mead to be in the squad, Wiegman said: “No, I don’t think so. Beth is so positive and she is going really well, but we said the time schedules she had, we would have taken so many risks to try and get her to the World Cup. Very early we said: ‘We are not going to take that risk’.  I am not willing to take that risk, to push her too much and then she gets injured again, because we also have to take care of players and do what’s smart.”

Beth Mead's ACL injury put paid to her hopes of making the World Cup - PA/Martin Rickett
Beth Mead's ACL injury put paid to her hopes of making the World Cup - PA/Martin Rickett

Included in the squad was striker Bethany England, who was rewarded for her form in the WSL, where she has scored 12 goals in her past 12 appearances. Manchester United’s Katie Zelem also made the cut, along with Brighton youngster Katie Robinson, from amongst the players in most pundits’ ‘possibles’ lists.

Wiegman said Tottenham striker England’s inclusion was “because of her performances”, adding: “She started playing in a hard situation cause Tottenham was having a hard time, but how she did and how she performed and also how much resilience she showed. I think that made us make the decision to get her in the squad.”

There was also encouraging news for Lionesses fans in that Barcelona right-back Lucy Bronze is “fit and fully in training” ahead of Saturday’s Women’s Champions League final, according to Wiegman, after suffering a knee injury in April.

Wiegman also offered an update on Chelsea centre-back Millie Bright, who has not played since March, also due to a knee injury, but is deemed to be fit enough for the squad, adding: “Millie Bright is in a good place, we’re positive, she’s still building but we have time. It looks good.”

Among England’s longer-term absentees, captain Leah Williamson and forward Fran Kirby, it was already known that they will miss the tournament before Wednesday’s announcement, but Wiegman said: “It’s very disappointing but you have to move on too. This is unfortunately part of sports, that you can get injured, you hope to make that risk as small as possible but it can give any opportunity to someone else.”

The European champions’ campaign Down Under begins against Haiti in Group D on 22 July, before fixtures against Denmark and China.

England’s World Cup squad announced, as it happened

03:01 PM

England squad by club

02:55 PM

Wiegman on the lack of diversity in England squad, with 21 white players out of 23

I understand people look at it like that and I really hope that will change. But that won’t change overnight, we have spoken about this a couple of times now and I’m for the short term.

I know the FA are doing lots of things to discover more talent and let girls play, to get everyone who wants to play football whatever background you have or wherever you come from you can play.

What happened after the Euros to have access in schools hopefully that brings more girls with different backgrounds into the game so in the future we have more players from different background in the national team.

02:48 PM

Wiegman in confident mood as she is pressed about her squad

I have huge belief in this squad and we’re very fortunate to be selecting a fantastic group of players to travel to Australia. We know we will face tough challenges from strong teams, and we will have to be competitive from the first match on 22 July

We will do everything to be at our very best again this summer. It is important the players get some well-deserved time to rest and recover over the next few weeks before we start the final preparations to get them ready.

We learned a lot of positive lessons about how to get the players fit, fresh and ready from the Euro last summer and we know what we have to do to make sure we hit the ground running in the right way when the tournament starts.

Beth Mead out of England's Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - live updates - Reuters/Molly Darlington
Beth Mead out of England's Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - live updates - Reuters/Molly Darlington

02:41 PM

Wiegman on the lack of a World Cup broadcast deal

I’m not worried about that situation, FIFA and the broadcasters will solve it. I’ve seen how football is being covered in England and it’s really good.

I’m focusing on the football and I expect it to be solved before the tournament starts.

02:35 PM

Wiegman on selecting England

When she was at Chelsea she didn’t get the minutes, and we always say if you are competing for a position you aren’t building credits with us because we hardly saw her play.

Then she made the move and she played in a hard situation. How much resilience she showed made us make the decision to get her in the squad.

02:31 PM

Wiegman hails Daly

She’s had a very good season. She’s played as a number 9 but also at the back and has good versatility for the team.

Beth Mead out of England's Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - live updates - Getty Images/Marc Atkins
Beth Mead out of England's Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - live updates - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

02:28 PM

Wiegman on leaving out Le Tissier

She was really close. That was a hard [phone] call. She didn’t get there. We see her as a right back, at her club she plays as a centre back but this is a choice we made.

02:26 PM

Latest reaction from Telegraph Sport reporter Molly McElwee

02:24 PM

Wiegman on if Mead had a chance of going this summer

No, I don’t think so. She’s so positive, but we would’ve taken so many risks to get her to the World Cup. I’m not willing to take that risk

02:22 PM

Wiegman on who will be captain

Wiegman confirms Millie Bright will be England captain at the Women’s World Cup in Leah Williamson’s absence.

02:21 PM

Wiegman on the fit of her players

Lucy [Bronze] is fit, Millie [Bright] is in a good place. It looks good. They have an important role for the team.

02:20 PM

Wiegman on the last few weeks

The last week was a little stressful. It has been really hard. Nice for those included, not nice for those not included.

02:19 PM

Sarina Wiegman is on the stage to speak about her decisions

Quotes to come...

02:18 PM

Millie Bright is pleased to be named in the England squad

02:16 PM

Latest update from our Women's Football Reporter Tom Garry

Our understanding is that Emily Ramsey is the goalkeeper on standby, while Maya Le Tissier and Jess Park will also be on standby.

There’ll be at least one other player on standby, which we expect Sarina Wiegman to disclose shortly.

By my maths, this squad of 23 have an average age of 25.7 years old. That’s significantly lower than the 2019 World Cup, which had an average age of 27.1.

It means it’s a relatively young England squad. Only Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Laura Coombs, Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Daly are in their 30s.

02:12 PM

Twitter reaction to the squad announcement

02:03 PM

Latest reaction from our Women's Football Reporter Tom Garry

The decision to omit Manchester United centre-back Maya Le Tissier is a major shock and has sent a ripple of confusion and surprise around this press room.

She was a mainstay for the Manchester United back four that has the best defensive record in the Women’s Super League this season.

England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Charlotte Tattersall
England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Charlotte Tattersall

02:00 PM

BREAKING: England's World Cup squad has been announced

Goalkeepers: Earps, Roebuck, Hampton

Defenders: Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Carter, Wubben-Moy, Charles, Morgan

Midfielders: Walsh, Stanway, Toone, Nobbs, Coombs, Zelem

Forwards: Russo, Daly, James, Kelly, Hemp, Robinson, England

01:54 PM

50 days to go

A quick reminder that the tournament gets under way on July 20 and everything you need to know about the World Cup is right here.

England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Reinaldo Coddou H
England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Reinaldo Coddou H

01:43 PM

Not long to go...

Let us know who you think should be in the squad and why!

England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Morgan Harlow
England announce Lionesses squad for the 2023 World Cup - follow live - Getty Images/Morgan Harlow

01:18 PM

England expects England

Tom Garry writes: The big question that everybody here in the Lionesses press room is asking is: Will Bethany England be included? 

The Tottenham striker has been in supreme form for her club, almost single-handedly saving the north Londoners from relegation with 12 goals in 12 WSL games since signing from Chelsea in January, but she’s not played for her country for since September. 

It’s pretty much all anybody is talking about her in the makeshift media area at Boldmere St Michaels FC in Sutton Coldfield, which one volunteer here jokingly tells me hasn’t looked this busy since their 2018 Christmas party.

Bethany England
Bethany England

12:58 PM

Why we're at Boldmere St Michaels FC

Wiegman, a runner-up at the 2019 World Cup in France with her native Netherlands, is at a grassroots club in Birmingham for today’s announcement of a 23-player squad.

Sutton Coldfield’s Boldmere St Michaels FC, formed in 1883, is home to 70 teams covering 18 different age groups across women’s, men’s, girls’ and boys’ football.

The FA say the decision to host the event at such a low-key location “follows the Lionesses’ equal access success and has been made to highlight the strong connection between the grassroots game and England teams”.

It added: “This will reinforce the squad’s determination to positively impact participation levels, inspire future generations and also the crucial role grassroots clubs have played in the players’ development.”

12:56 PM

England's other injuries

Beth Mead joins the list of big names already ruled out of this summer’s tournament.

Leah Williamson, the captain, is unavailable after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament last month. Fran Kirby is also out with a knee problem, as are Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze.

Given the extent of the European champions’ injury problems, there is speculation that former captain Steph Houghton could be recalled. She has never played under Wiegman.

Speaking shortly before Williamson’s injury, Wiegman said the chances of Houghton making the World Cup squad were “not that high” while stressing she would “never close the door”.

12:33 PM

Beth Mead ruled out through injury

Arsenal forward Beth Mead is to miss out on this summer’s Women’s World Cup, Telegraph Sport understands, with England head coach Sarina Wiegman naming her squad of 23 at 2pm today.

The tournament in Australia and New Zealand gets under way on July 20, which will come too soon for Mead, who suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament at the end of November and subsequently underwent surgery on her knee in early December.

It is understood that Mead and Wiegman have had productive talks throughout the past few months and both parties agree the decision has been made with her best interests at heart, not wishing to risk her longer-term recovery.

Wiegman said in April that Mead required “a miracle” to be fit in time but the Euros Golden Boot winner was still trying as hard as she could to be fit in time.

“I understand and appreciate that,” Mead told Telegraph Sport last month. “Her comments were made to keep the pressure off.

“The worst thing you can have as a player is a coach who bull----s you.

“Sarina has been unbelievably good at that side of things. You ask any of the girls, those who have been left out of squads, those who have had huge disappointments. She will ring you the day before and give the reasons why. It’s always honest and constructive.”

Wiegman’s full squad will not be revealed until 2pm, but there are not likely to be many surprises.

Of the biggest decisions for the head coach is whether or not to take Bethany England, who has been in great form for her club, scoring 12 goals in 12 WSL appearances since joining Tottenham in the January transfer window. But she has not featured for her country in 2023, last playing for the Lionesses against Luxembourg in September 2022. She was selected for last summer’s Euros but was an unused substitute throughout.

Wingers Katie Robinson, of Brighton, and Nikita Parris, of Manchester United, will be among those waiting for news of whether or not they have made it. It is also thought that one of the following centre-backs will have to miss out: Maya Le Tissier, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Esme Morgan or West Ham’s Lucy Parker.