Sarina Wiegman speaks on EURO 2022 provisional squad selection
Wiegman announced her provisional squad on Tuesday afternoon ahead of naming a final group of 23 players in mid-June.
England’s squad will report to St. George’s Park on Monday 30 May until Wednesday 1 June for an initial preparation period, before returning on Monday 6 June until Friday 10 June.
They will be back at St. George’s Park once more on Monday 13 June ahead of the first of three warm-up fixtures on Thursday 16 June, when Belgium travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium.
Friday 24 June then sees Wiegman’s former side the Netherlands travel to Elland Road, the home of Leeds United, before England spend five days training in Basel, where they will play Switzerland at the Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich on Thursday 30 June.
Wiegman is then set to name her final 23-player squad for this summer’s EUROs in mid-June, ahead of the official UEFA deadline at 10.59pm (BST) on Sunday 26 June.
Teams are still able to make unlimited replacements before their first match in the event of serious injury or illness, including COVID-19 or 'close contact' to a positive case.
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Wiegman said: “I am happy with where we are at heading into the EUROs. The players will have some rest now, they will be able to become fresh, they will have some headspace and then we come in.
“I am very positive about our preparations and about the opponents we have and the time that we have with the team to continue developing some more things and become even more connected with the players.
“I am happy and I am really looking forward to starting the EUROs.
“The games with Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland will help us get in a rhythm and they are very competitive games where we can see players and get to the last stage of our preparations to get ready for the EUROs. I am really happy with the opponents that we have so we can build towards July 6 and beyond.”
A number of Wiegman’s squad were involved in the dramatic final day of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season, when Chelsea pipped Arsenal to the title, and Sunday’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final, as the Blues were again victorious.
And Wiegman is hoping her squad can help grow the women’s game even further during this summer’s home EUROs.
Wiegman said: “I am really happy with how the FA Women’s Super League finished and the levels that were shown, especially in the competition for the number one position in the league. It was so close and the performances were good.
“I think the Women’s FA Cup Final was just an advertisement for the women’s game, with 50,000 people at Wembley Stadium, and now the next really incredible event is the EUROs.
“I hope we are going to make it an event that everyone will remember forever and that we, England, are going to have a great tournament and that the women’s game in general will be exposed in a good way and I hope that with all the England games sold out, that it is really exciting.”
Among the 28 players were Steph Houghton, Fran Kirby and Jill Scott, who are all working their way back to full fitness.
Manchester City captain Houghton was included in Wiegman’s maiden England squad back in September 2021 but injury during that first camp has meant the 34-year-old is yet to feature under the Lionesses head coach.
Houghton has only made four league starts for Manchester City this season but her performances during that time and her record for England in 121 appearances, many of which were as captain, were enough to persuade Wiegman to include the Lionesses legend in the provisional squad.
“We have only seen a little bit of her this year but what I have seen is really good,” Wiegman said.
“Of course, I knew of Steph before I came in as the head coach. The experience she has, the levels she has shown before, what she has contributed to English football, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to give her a chance too.
“We have had really honest conversations around where she is right now and what we need from her when she comes in.
“We are taking it day-by-day, and we will see where she goes. Yes, we know it is tight, but I have had players in the past and individual situations where players have been able to make it.”
Wiegman continued: “She is working really hard trying to make the EUROs and we need to make sure she is fit enough to continue building. She also needs to perform because the team have done so well in her position so she needs to get to her level really quickly to be able to make the squad but I am positive and she is positive that she will be fit.
“I hope we are going to have some really hard decisions to make because everyone in this preliminary squad will be ready to make the final squad.
“It is tight but we want to give them a chance and we still have time.”
Kirby had been an ever-present in Wiegman’s squads since she took over last year but the Chelsea forward has not featured for club or country since February due to a fatigue-related illness.
In April it was confirmed Kirby would be taking an indefinite break from football to focus on her health but she returned to training with Chelsea last week and was part of the squad for Sunday’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final against Manchester City.
Kirby was an unused substitute but in the build-up to the match, manager Emma Hayes confirmed the forward had trained with the squad all week.
Wiegman said: “Fran is still building up and we are taking it slowly with her because we do not want to take any risks with her of course. I’m just really happy for her that she feels better, that she has been on the training pitch and she could be in the squad last weekend.”
She continued: “Fran hasn’t had playing minutes yet but she had such an important role with Chelsea and for us that I just wanted to take the opportunity [to include her in the provisional squad]. I know where she is right now, she is doing better and we have six weeks to prepare for the EUROs.”
One player who has been included in a Wiegman England squad for the first time is Manchester City winger Chloe Kelly.
The 24-year-old, who has seven Lionesses senior caps, spent ten months on the sidelines after rupturing her ACL in May 2021 but she has impressed since returning to action in April.
Wiegman said: “She is an absolute winger and I am so happy for her that she is back and that she has got minutes. She still needs some rhythm but she has shown me enough to convince me and the technical staff to include her in the provisional squad.
“She gets behind the defence, is good in the one-v-ones, her crossing is good and she has explosivity. I knew she had that in her game already and she was in a really good place before she got injured last year.
“She has worked so hard, she has had good minutes with Manchester City and I think she is in a good place and ready to come in and compete for her position.”
Jill Scott has also been included as she works on her fitness but the most notable omission from Wiegman’s provisional squad is Jordan Nobbs.
When fit, the talented midfielder has been included in Wiegman’s squads but she suffered a knee injury at the start of May which looks set to rule her out of the home EUROs.
The devastating news comes after injury also denied her a place at the 2019 FIFA World Cup and also contributed to her omission from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Wiegman said: “We have had very good conversations with Jordan and also with her club, with the technical staff, and what came up most is that we are so sad for her that she got injured.
The injury will take a little bit of time to recover so it is so hard and really disappointing for her.
“We had honest conversations and we said for her to start getting ready for the new season and hopefully she will be back soon. It is just the timing of the injury is so unlucky because the timing became so tight. It is just too tight.”
England Women will be back in action on Thursday 16 June against Belgium and tickets for the match at Molineux are available here.
Tickets are also still available for the match against the Netherlands at Elland Road on Friday 24 June from here.