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Published 07 February 2023 4 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Sarina Wiegman: 'We can do even better'

Written by:

Frank Smith

Head coach discusses her England Women's squad for the Arnold Clark Cup 2023 ahead of games against South Korea, Italy and Belgium

Sarina Wiegman has stressed there is more to come from her England team after naming a 26-player squad for the Arnold Clark Cup.

The Lionesses won their first major trophy last summer when they lifted the UEFA Women’s EURO and remain unbeaten since Wiegman took charge in September 2021.

Victory over the reigning world champions, the USA, in October highlighted once again why England are one of the favourites heading into the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.

But Wiegman stated her players are aware there is still a lot of work to do ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, and believes this month’s Arnold Clark Cup will be crucial in their preparation.

Wiegman said: “We were favourites for the European Championships and we will be one of the favourites for the World Cup too and we have to be aware of that. We are but we want to improve ourselves too because we know we can do better.

“We are not at our top level, we all think we can do even better, and that is what we are working on again.

“Next week is a step again to show that and to improve our style of play and to also get more information about more players and where they are at in this moment.”

England will play their first games of 2023 later this month when they look to retain the Arnold Clark Cup trophy they won last year.

The Lionesses will take on South Korea in Milton Keynes on Thursday 16 February before Italy visit Coventry on Sunday 19 February, with the final match coming against Belgium at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate on Wednesday 22 February.

The three matches will be followed by the first-ever Women’s Finalissima against Brazil at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Thursday 6 April, as England build up towards this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Wiegman said: “We will be playing three matches in eight days so we can see lots of players, lots of combinations, we can try out some things and we need that information to get prepared for the World Cup. So I am really happy…and of course we need to manage the load a little bit too.”

She continued: “Whenever we start a game, we always want to win but this is also an opportunity to try out different things, to see more players on the pitch and to figure out some more connections in the team and more combinations of players playing together. That is the main thing for us. 

“That doesn’t mean we do not want to win because we want to win every game and we want to prepare the team as much as possible to be ready on July 22. This Arnold Clark Cup is again a big step forward, with the three games ahead of us.”

Manchester City midfielder Laura Coombs is back in the England squad for the first time since 2020
Manchester City midfielder Laura Coombs is back in the England squad for the first time since 2020

Wiegman’s 26-player squad includes Manchester City midfielder Laura Coombs, who has been recalled for the first time since November 2020, having appeared twice for her country back in 2015.

Coombs is a versatile midfielder who can play box-to-box, with strong defensive and attacking attributes.

The 32-year-old is joint second in the division for combined goals and assists among centre midfielders this season, having scored four times and set up another three, and was named BWSL Fans’ Player of the Month for December.

Wiegman said: “She has done really well with Manchester City. She has shown so much consistency and every time she has a very good contribution to the team.

“She is a midfielder who can play a little higher and a little deeper, which I think we need a little bit more of that in the balance of our midfield so that is why I chose to pick her.”

Wiegman has named four goalkeepers in the 26-player squad, with England Under-23 shot-stopper Emily Ramsey being promoted.

The 22-year-old has been signed to Manchester United for most of her career but has spent much of her time in recent years out on loan, with her form at Everton this season helping secure a spot in Wiegman’s squad for the Arnold Clark Cup.

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Ramsey was first called up to a senior team training camp in June 2021 and was also promoted from the WU23s for a session in late-2022.

The England head coach said: “Emily has done well. She starts a lot at Everton, she is a talented goalkeeper, and we wanted to have four goalkeepers in the squad to see how they relate to each other in some training sessions, plus we have three games. It is also to do with the development of Emily.

“Sandy (MacIver) is in the squad and she hasn’t played that many minutes so we wanted to see how that goes too.”

Captain Leah Williamson is back in the squad, having missed the November camp due to injury, and Jess Park has also returned.

But Wiegman explained the Arnold Clark Cup came around too quickly for Esme Morgan, who has been out injured recently.

Wiegman said: “I am looking forward to meeting up with the whole team. [As for Leah], I am very happy that she is back. She is a very nice person to work with and it is good to have your captain back and the qualities she brings the team, both on the pitch and off the pitch.

“It is not only her, I am happy to start working with the [whole] team as I have not seen [most of] them for three months, after the November camp, so I am really excited to get started again.”

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