Five things Sarina Wiegman learnt from England’s final warm-ups ahead of Euro qualifiers

Ella Toone, Grace Clinton, Maya Le Tissier celebrate England's victory over Austria

Sarina Wiegman says she has selection headaches awaiting her for April’s Euro 2025 qualifiers after several of her England players fully grasped their opportunities to impress during February’s wins over Austria and Italy.

“There’s a lot of depth in the squad and there are some players hopefully coming back [from injuries] so that the competition gets even higher,” Wiegman said after her side’s comfortable 5-1 win over Italy in Algeciras in southern Spain. “We have a very good group, and some young players coming in.

“On Friday [against Austria, winning 7-2] we played with such a young team but today there were also a lot of young players on the pitch too, so that gives us some good perspective for the future. It gives us headaches to make choices for the next camp and to make choices for the starting line-up.”

England will hope to have Arsenal’s Leah Williamson and Chelsea’s Millie Bright, as well as Fran Kirby, returning from injuries in time for the next squad announcement, by which time they will know their opponents for their Euros qualifying campaign after March 5’s draw ceremony. So what will Wiegman have learnt about her squad from these back-to-back victories in February to aid her decision-making for April’s qualifiers?

Clinton is ready for senior international football

Grace Clinton walks out for England
Grace Clinton (centre) took to international duty like a duck to water - Getty Images/Naomi Baker

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Grace Clinton was the big discovery of February’s camp for Wiegman, scoring on her debut on Friday when she started in midfield alongside Georgia Stanway and Ella Toone and then keeping her place in the starting side alongside Stanway and the returning Keira Walsh on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old looked at home in the senior environment and has quickly built a good understanding with her team-mates. She found pockets of space in the No 10 position regularly and repeatedly made dangerous runs into the box to attack crosses. She would deserve to be rewarded with another call-up for April.

England look better in a 4-3-3

Ella Toone crosses the ball
England totally dominated Italy playing a 4-3-3 - Getty Images/Fran Santiago

During the World Cup, England switch to a back-three formation with wing-backs but in recent games they have reverted to their more familiar 4-3-3 system and they look a lot more comfortable, which seems to better suit the midfielders. Wiegman’s side looked supreme in possession against Italy and controlled the ball throughout most of the first half.

Speaking more broadly about England’s performances, Barcelona right-back Lucy Bronze said: “We’re in a really good place. I think it was quite difficult after the World Cup, to ‘go again’ in a tough competition [the autumn’s Nations League]. I think you’ve seen we’re back into that rhythm now.

“We’re improving as well, our style of play is improving and the players have got better connections again. In terms of where we’re at, it’s quite exciting because I think we’ve got a lot more that we can get better at, we know that, but to be starting from a better place than what we started from two years ago feels really good.”

Le Tissier can provide cover at right-back

Maya Le Tissier celebrates with Rachel Daly
Maya Le Tissier (left) provides valuable versatility - Getty Images/Fran Santiago

Friday’s game also saw 21-year-old Manchester United right-back Maya Le Tissier given a rare opportunity to start for the Lionesses instead of rested Lucy Bronze and she certainly held her own in that position.

Le Tissier is a regular starter for her club as a right-sided centre-half but has long been capable of playing at full-back too, and Friday’s was a solid, if unspectacular, showing at right-back that will have given Wiegman confidence to deploy Le Tissier there again if cover is required for Bronze for any reason.

England’s Man City contingent are in red-hot form

Alex Greenwood in action for England
Alex Greenwood brings a calm presence - Getty Images/Fran Santiago

Among the most impressive performers for England in this camp were several of their Manchester City stars, who are in the midst of a title charge domestically as they sit level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table following an 11-game winning run.

Centre-back Alex Greenwood shone again with her distribution, vision and calm presence on the ball, while Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly continue to look like two of the most dangerous wingers in Europe on current evidence. Hemp, in particular, tormented the Italian defence at times and is also showing her instinctive nature in front of goal by becoming more of a poacher in the box, whilst her aerial ability helped power in Tuesday’s third goal of the night.

Always put your football boots in your hand luggage

Georgia Stanway at England's press conference
Georgia Stanway dropped a bombshell at England's press conference - Getty Images/Naomi Baker

Bayern Munich star Stanway had the England press pack in a fit of laughter on Thursday when she revealed she had arrived in Spain without her football boots because her suitcase had been lost during transit. And it turned out to be news to a shocked Wiegman, too.

“I was able to wear Freya’s [Freya Gregory, England Under-23s player] boots for the first two days,” explained Stanway. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to put your boots in your hand luggage.”

The head coach was quick to reply with amusement: “I thought you would have learned that a long time ago on the pathway!”

Stanway’s own boots seemingly did turn up in time for Friday’s game and, whatever she was wearing, they did the trick because she dominated the midfield battle with a fine performance.