England Women appoint two new coaches after being left in the lurch by Phil Neville exit

Dan Kilpatrick
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England Women have appointed two new coaches on short-term contracts after the Football Association was thrown into disarray by Phil Neville’s resignation.

Hege Riise, a former Norway midfielder, is set to take charge of the Lionesses at next month’s training camp with assistance from former Canada international Rhian Wilkinson.

The new pair will be assisted by Kay Cossington, the FA’s head of women’s technical.

Riise was initially set to be appointed Neville’s new No.2 following the departure of Rehanne Skinner to Tottenham Women in November, while Wilkinson also came to the FA’s attention after being one of 47 applicants for the vacant job.

However, the pair will now take charge of the squad during February’s international break after Neville informed the FA last week he was in talks to be the new head-coach of David Beckham’s Inter Miami. He officially stepped down on Monday.

The former Manchester United player was due to leave his position as Lionesses boss at the end of his contract in August, with Netherlands coach Sarina Weigman already confirmed as his long-term successor, and had also agreed to take charge of Team GB at this summer's delayed Olympic Games.

Riise and Wilkinson, who resigned from her role as a Canada youth coach last week, both have contracts until after the Games in August and they could remain in place as assistants to a new interim head-coach who would lead Team GB at the Tokyo Games.

Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of the women’s game, said: “Once February is complete, we will sit down and assess the Lionesses situation and consider next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home nations and the British Olympic Association."

There are currently no Lionesses fixtures in the diary and the FA is still looking for potential opposition for next month, having decided not to take part in this year’s SheBelieves Cup.

Riise was a generational midfielder with Norway and is one of only three players to have won the European Championship, the World Cup and an Olympic gold.

Hege RiiseWireImage
Hege RiiseWireImage

After retiring as a player, the 51-year-old has been a successful club coach in her homeland and also coached Norway's Under-23s and spent three years as assistant to then-USA head coach Pia Sundhage from 2009.

“I am confident of making a positive impact when I meet up with the squad in February,” she said.

Riise has earned the support of her countryman and Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said: “Of course, I know Hege has done really well and she has had a fantastic career as both a coach and a player. So if that’s the case, if England decide that, I think they’ve got a very good coach there and a very good human being.”

As a player, Wilkinson, who has a British passport through her parents, featured in four World Cups with Canada and helped them to a Bronze medal at the London 2012 Games.

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