Lionesses know what they need to do to ensure selection for the Olympics

George Sessions, PA
·4-min read

The Lionesses have been told exactly what is required by interim manager Hege Riise in order to be selected for the upcoming Olympics.

Riise, who is in temporary charge of England Women until Holland boss Sarina Wiegman takes the reins on a permanent basis in September, will lead Great Britain at this summer’s tournament in Tokyo.

Only 18 players can be selected and England’s internationals have a chance in friendlies with France and Canada this week to make a final impression before the group is rubber-stamped next month.

Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy made her Lionesses debut in a 6-0 win over Northern Ireland in February and praised the transparency of the Norwegian head coach.

The 22-year-old said: “Hege is an extremely progressive and forward-thinking coach, which I love so I feel lucky to be playing under her.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal – FA Women’s Super League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy is a fan of Hege Riise (John Walton/PA)

“She has a wealth of experience so that obviously adds to the pedigree of the coach she is. I definitely feel we are extremely positive as a team under Hege and it is exciting football we are playing.

“Credit to coaches, they have been completely transparent (on Olympic selection). Fitness levels have got to be heightened, mental resilience and I guess the most important thing is the minutes we are playing and making sure they are quality minutes and we are taking those opportunities.”

Wubben-Moy captained England’s Under-17s at the World Cup five years ago and believes that type of exposure gets the next generation ready for the senior set-up.

She added: “We are lucky we are a nation on the world stage and we do get the opportunities to play such big games. Through those wins and losses, that is when you really build the mental resilience.”

The Arsenal centre-back will hope to feature in Friday’s clash away to France and Tuesday’s fixture with Canada at Stoke and could be alongside Chelsea ace Millie Bright, with captain Steph Houghton a notable absentee with an Achilles injury.

Steph Houghton File Photo
Steph Houghton is injured (John Walton/PA)

Bright missed the last camp in February with a fitness issue, but still got the chance to speak with Phil Neville’s temporary replacement about the Tokyo Games.

“We are fighting for a position so you need to make sure you are ticking all the right boxes and any opportunity you are given, you are grabbing with both hands,” the 37-capped centre-back insisted.

“Everyone has had those conversations (with Hege) and the direction that we are going in and as always what you need to work on, what you are doing well and it’s good to have those conversations.

“I had mine last camp and we kind of just touched base. Obviously you have to build that new relationship now with the new manager.”

Manchester City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck got the nod to start in Riise’s first match but is joined in this camp by experienced duo Carly Telford and Karen Bardsley.

Manchester City v Manchester United – FA Women’s Super League – Academy Stadium
Ellie Roebuck got the nod to start in Riise’s first match (Tim Goode/PA)

The 21-year-old has starred at club level this season and will hope to bring that form into the international stage while improving her relationship with the Team GB boss.

“She is a great coach,” Roebuck said of the England interim boss.

“I think it has been difficult. The last camp with Covid restrictions and everything, it makes it difficult to get to know a person when the meetings are over Zoom but from what I have gathered her methodology is all really positive and we want to play attacking football.

“Getting on grass and being out there and enjoying what we’re doing has been a key thing as she has come in.

“The more technical and tactical detail has been really good for us to understand and we are all aware of the system she is wanting to play and individually how that will affect our positions. I am really excited and it will be promising for the Olympics coming up.”

Man City defender Esme Morgan has been called up to the squad and is available for the games with France and Canada.