Sarina Wiegman to rotate Lionesses squad as World Cup looms in busy calendar: ‘They are not robots’

Measured approach: England Women coach Sarina Wiegman won’t risk her players’ fitness  (PA)
Measured approach: England Women coach Sarina Wiegman won’t risk her players’ fitness (PA)

England boss Sarina Wiegman says her players are “not robots” and she will look to rotate her side in the build-up to next year’s World Cup to keep the Lionesses fresh.

The calendar in the women’s game has become incredibly packed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with players taking part in the Olympics last year and the Euros this summer. The World Cup will take place next year, with players then having the next Olympics in 2024 and another Euros in 2025.

Wiegman, whose England side are facing Japan tonight in a friendly in Spain, is duly looking to manage players’ workloads to minimise the risk of injury.

“We know that it’s tournament, tournament, tournament,” said Wiegman. “It’s good to have tournaments and your best players available, that counts for us but also every other country.

“But they also need some rest, we are not robots and there hasn’t been that much rest for players. So what we do, and what we’ve been doing with the clubs too, is manage players. We have our team programme and within this we also do individual adjustments to keep players fit and fresh.

“There is always a little risk, but you really want to diminish the risk as much as possible.”

England have fitness problems for tonight’s game, with several regular starters missing from the squad. Fran Kirby, Leah Williamson and Lauren Hemp are all out, while Alex Greenwood is injured but should be back for Tuesday’s friendly against Norway. Lucy Bronze is currently isolating in the team hotel after testing positive for Covid.

“It’s not the World Cup yet. It’s still preparation and it’ good to see other players too,” said Wiegman. “It gives the opportunity to other players to play and to be part of the team, and for us the opportunity to see where they are at and how they compete with the players who have been in the team for a long time.”