England’s Sarina Wiegman happy to give injured Beth Mead time to recover

The England manager, Sarina Wiegman, has said it is too early to prepare for a World Cup without Beth Mead. The Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner ruptured her ACL in November in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

“I don’t want to push it,” Wiegman said. “She’s had so many things going on in her life. We’ll see how her rehab goes then we’ll look at the future.”

Goalkeepers Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Emily Ramsey (Everton, on loan from Manchester United), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)

Defenders Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton, on loan from Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)

Forwards Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash).

Wiegman said the Arsenal forward is doing well and that beside her knee injury she wanted her to “be OK and get settled with the situation and sadness she had around her”, after the death of her mother on 7 January who had ovarian cancer. “I don’t want her to look too far forward right now because of her situation.”

Mead’s absence from the 26-player squad for the friendly Arnold Clark Cup was an obvious one, but also omitted was the striker Beth England and the midfielders Lucy Staniforth and Jordan Nobbs. They all changed clubs in January stating their desire to make the World Cup squad as the motivation to seek out more playing time.

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“They are competing for selection,” Wiegman said. “Lucy was a little further ahead. We have conversations with them all the time. They have moved to clubs where they are playing a lot now. It’s good for competition, but you can’t control what your competitors do.

“We can see now where they are at and how they’re improving. Then we look at what they do and make a choice. It’s good they get minutes and it makes their position better, but it doesn’t guarantee they will be selected.”

Wiegman will have to narrow the numbers down when she announces her squad for the World Cup. Fifa have rejected requests for squads to be expanded from 23 players to 26 for the tournament, as they were for the men’s Qatar World Cup.

“I’m disappointed about that but we have to accept that decision,” she said. “I don’t think going with 26 would prevent injuries, you would just have more opportunities to balance load ahead of the tournament.”

Wiegman has handed a first senior call-up to the goalkeeper Emily Ramsey, who is on loan at Everton from Manchester United, for the Arnold Clark Cup, which begins with England playing South Korea in Milton Keynes on 16 February.

“We discuss every player. We sit down every week after we’ve seen the matches,” Wiegman said. “She has been on our list for a long time and trained with us before. We found it was a good moment to bring her in and see where she is at.”

Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, Lauren Hemp and Laura Coombs return to the squad having missed out on the November camp. Gabby George, Esme Morgan and Nikita Parris have been omitted.