Wiegman set to name England squad amid injury woes
England boss Sarina Wiegman names her squad for this summer’s World Cup on Wednesday with injuries having been the major talking point in the build-up to the announcement.
Lionesses captain Leah Williamson has been ruled out of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand that gets under way on July 20 after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament last month.
Fellow Euro 2022 winner Fran Kirby will also be absent due to a knee problem and Beth Mead, who won the Golden Boot and was named player of the tournament for that competition, is a serious doubt as she recovers from an ACL injury sustained in November.
Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze (both knee) have been sidelined of late as well to add to Wiegman’s worries, while one-cap goalkeeper Sandy MacIver has made herself unavailable for selection as she focuses on recovering from a groin issue.
The injury to Williamson has prompted speculation over whether her fellow defender and predecessor as skipper Steph Houghton, who is yet to play under Wiegman, might be recalled.
The 35-year-old was included in the provisional Euros squad last summer as she worked her way back from an Achilles operation but did not make the final cut and, while featuring regularly for Manchester City of late, she has not had further involvement with England.
Speaking shortly before Williamson’s injury, Wiegman said the chances of Houghton making the World Cup squad were “not that high” while stressing she would “never close the door”.
In attack, there could be a return for Bethany England, a member of the Euros-winning squad who was last called up by Wiegman for matches in September.
The forward has scored 12 Women’s Super League goals since moving from Chelsea to Tottenham in January.
England kick off their World Cup campaign by facing Haiti in Brisbane on July 22 and will also play Denmark and China in Group D.
Their 30-game unbeaten run under Wiegman that included last summer’s Euros triumph on home soil, the first major trophy in the team’s history, ended in their most recent outing, when they were beaten 2-0 by Australia in Brentford last month.
Wiegman, a runner-up at the 2019 World Cup in France with her native Netherlands, will be at a grassroots club in Birmingham for the announcement of her 23-player squad on Wednesday afternoon.
Sutton Coldfield’s Boldmere St Michaels FC, formed in 1883, is home to 70 teams covering 18 different age groups across women’s, men’s, girls’ and boys’ football. Around 60 girls and boys are set to be taking part in half-term sessions there on Wednesday.
The Football Association said in a statement that the location decision “follows the Lionesses’ equal access success and has been made to highlight the strong connection between the grassroots game and England teams”.
It added: “This will reinforce the squad’s determination to positively impact participation levels, inspire future generations and also the crucial role grassroots clubs have played in the players’ development.”
Earlier this year the Government announced a package to boost school sport and equal access to it, which followed the England squad calling for change in an open letter published just after they won the Euros last summer.
The FA said that while that had been achieved, it remained its “strategic objective for girls to have equal access to football in the community through growing the number of girls teams within grassroots clubs and ensuring Weetabix Wildcats and Squad sessions are easily accessible”.