Sarina Wiegman has admitted to having had some “hard conversations” this week after choosing to leave Euro 2022 winners Beth England, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Nikita Parris out of her squad to face USA, the World Cup holders, and Czech Republic next month.
“There were hard conversations and hard choices,” the England manager said. “When you look at the team it is very competitive in the different positions. We look at quality, talent, being fit and having playing minutes with your team, then winning the competition with ones you are in the same position as.
“I had conversations with all the players who were in the squad before but are not now. I gave them some feedback, and now they have to work and try to fight their way back in. Of course, we’ll keep following them because they are very good players. It’s not just that we’ll follow 22 or 24 players, we’ll follow a big group of players and pick the best ones. It’s 10 months until the World Cup starts, it’s also an opportunity to bring through some young players to see where they are at.”
The Chelsea forward England, the Arsenal centre-back Wubben-Moy and the Manchester United forward Parris are all yet to start for their clubs this season. The Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs has also been omitted after being recalled to the squad for the September camp. Wiegman said she had spoken to the former England captain Steph Houghton and while she feels she is not ready to be called up to this camp she insisted the “door is open” for the 34-year-old.
The Lionesses have welcomed back Fran Kirby and Chloe Kelly, who missed the September camp because of injury, while there are first senior call-ups for the West Ham defender Lucy Parker and Manchester City’s Jess Park, the latter excelling on loan at Everton, most notably with a goal in Sunday’s Merseyside derby win at Anfield. City’s defender Esme Morgan, who is yet to make her debut for the senior England side, has returned to the squad after a lengthy spell out injured.
“There are talented players knocking on the door,” said Wiegman. “We have followed Jess Park for a while. I think she can play up front but also in midfield. She is a little more dropping inside now. It is exciting for her. Lucy Parker is very athletic. She has had some injuries but has had good preparation and good games.”
Responding to a question about whether centre-back Maya Le Tissier, who scored twice on her United debut, warranted a first call-up to the senior side, Wiegman said: “Maya did very good, it’s really nice that she scored but her main job is not scoring, it’s defending, it’s the build-up. She did very well but the other players did a little bit more. We are watching her, she’s in the under-23s, there are lots of very good players in the under-23s ready to come in and at the moment these are the players we picked.”
England host the USA at a sold-out Wembley on 7 October before travelling to Brighton, where they defeated Norway and Spain en route to Euro glory in the summer, to play the Czech Republic four days later.
“Playing the US, the No 1 in the world, is such a big occasion and another measurement for us of where we’re at,” said Wiegman. “After that we have 10 months to figure out what we can do better and what we did well.”
The manager also praised the courage of her side and, when asked whether England were over the fear-factor of facing the Americans said: “If there was [fear] I hope so. We have shown courage and really played with that to win and to prevent mistakes. We want to do that all the time.
“Germany and Spain were big opponents too so we will approach it the same way – play to win, accepting mistakes and hopefully play our style on the pitch.”