Hege Riise hopes Nikita Parris can join up with England Women in April

Phil Medlicott, PA
·3-min read

Hege Riise hopes Nikita Parris will be able to join up with England Women at some point during their April camp.

Parris and injured skipper Steph Houghton were notable absentees from the 24-player Lionesses squad named on Tuesday ahead of friendlies against France in Caen on April 9 and Canada at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium four days later.

The Football Association said forward Parris was unable to join the squad as a result of positive coronavirus cases at her club Lyon, adding that “the situation is being regularly assessed”.

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And England interim boss Riise told a press conference: “Hopefully we can look later in the camp, that she can come in for the last part, but we don’t know.”

Parris was also missing from the squad for England’s first game under Riise, the 6-0 win over Northern Ireland last month, with the Norwegian saying Lyon had not wanted to release the player because of coronavirus regulations.

On Monday, Lyon announced a round of testing that day had revealed four positive cases in their first team, which followed two other cases being discovered the previous week. Their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris St Germain that was scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

Riise was asked if there had been any indication the friendly against France could be in danger of not taking place, and she said: “That will be a concern. We still don’t know. We want that game, but we don’t want to risk anything.

Skipper Steph Houghton has been left out due to injury (John Walton/PA).
Skipper Steph Houghton has been left out due to injury (John Walton/PA).

“Our plan is to go to France and play, and we haven’t heard any different.”

Houghton, who has an Achilles issue, has been sidelined for Manchester City’s last four games, and Riise said of the defender: “Of course Steph has been captain for how many years, and a major player for a long time. We cannot replace her.

“But it’s an opportunity for a younger player to step up and that’s what we are looking for now.”

Manchester United defender Millie Turner is one of two uncapped players in the squad, along with Chelsea’s Niamh Charles.

England's first match under interim boss Hege Riise was February's 6-0 win over Northern Ireland (Handout/FA/PA)
England’s first match under interim boss Hege Riise was February’s 6-0 win over Northern Ireland (Handout/FA/PA)

Arsenal winger Beth Mead also features – she was initially left out of the squad for the Northern Ireland game, with Riise saying that “the player report hasn’t been that great”, before subsequently being called up amid injury withdrawals.

Asked on Tuesday if the report had been better this time, Riise said: “It is, and also she came in late for the last camp and was good, and that’s why we are giving her another opportunity. She also played many league games between these camps as well.”

Riise, who oversees the France and Canada games before naming a Great Britain squad for the summer’s Tokyo Olympics in May, has included four goalkeepers, with the experienced duo of Carly Telford and Karen Bardsley making a return to the set-up while uncapped Hannah Hampton drops out.

Birmingham’s Hampton was said to be left in tears when players were notified of making or, as in her case, missing out on the shortlist for the GB squad shortly before the club’s match against Everton on March 11, which they lost 4-0.

Riise (centre) is set to name her Great Britain squad for the Tokyo Olympics in May (Handout/FA/PA).
Riise (centre) is set to name her Great Britain squad for the Tokyo Olympics in May (Handout/FA/PA).

The FA subsequently released a statement saying the timing was an error and apologised.

Riise said on Tuesday: “The timing was not my call, but it was not how we want to work. So that was a big mistake.

“As soon as we found out, I called both the coaches, and Hannah, just to apologise. That was a mistake that we don’t want to happen again.”