England boss Sarina Wiegman denies crunch France qualifier is 'must-win' for Lionesses

All smiles: England coach Sarina Wiegman at Monday’s pre-match press conference in Saint-Etienne (The FA via Getty Images)
All smiles: England coach Sarina Wiegman at Monday’s pre-match press conference in Saint-Etienne (The FA via Getty Images)

Sarina Wiegman says every member of her England squad is fit ahead of the Lionesses’ crunch Euro 2025 qualifier against France in Saint-Etienne on Tuesday.

England are under pressure to finish top and claim the group’s only automatic qualifying place after defeat to the French, 2-1 in Newcastle on Friday, left them with just four points from their first three games.

Goalkeeper Mary Earps left the pitch in tears with an injury on Friday and has since left the squad so will play no part in Saint-Etienne, but the rest of the England squad all came through training and recovery on Monday unscathed.

Wiegman told the media on Monday afternoon: “Everyone trained and everyone worked off the pitch today also, after training, so that’s good news.

“She [Earps] can’t play tomorrow and she left, as you know, but it’s not too big of an injury. We expect her to be back for the next game”, Wiegman added, referring to England’s penultimate qualifier, against the Republic of Ireland on July 12.

“Friday, there were some details we could have done better. We want a couple of little tweaks to take away their strengths.”

Asked whether the match is a must-win to avoid France edging closer to sealing the automatic qualification place for Euro 2025, Wiegman said: “No, [it’s a] ‘want to win’.

“We always want to win games. Of course, it would really help to put us in a better position if we win the game. With the experience we had on Friday, we feel comfortable we can get a good result tomorrow.”

England forward Beth Mead, who scored at St James’ Park in Friday’s 2-1 defeat, said: “It’s a tough game, two very good teams going against each other.

“When we look at the game, it’s small margins. We let two set-pieces in, which we pride ourselves on [usually defending], so it’s very disappointing. If we play the game we know we can play, we have no reason not to believe we can’t beat this French team.

“We’re very frustrated with Friday. We’ve got a team of winners, people who want to push each other out of the team. We’ve analysed, we feel ready to show we can beat France comfortably.

“Most people would probably say this is the group of death, but you’ve got to beat the best to be the best. Hopefully we have the answers tomorrow night.”