Skip to main content
Published 17 February 2023 8 min read
England Women's Senior Team

‘Under-23s is helping players know what Sarina Wiegman wants and expects when they join the seniors’

Written by:

Frank Smith

Find women's and girls' football

Emily Ramsey discusses her call-up to the England Women’s team and the importance of the Under-23 team

The reintroduction of the England women’s Under-23s team was largely to help younger players make the step up to the senior set-up. Emily Ramsey is the latest to prove it is working.

Since last summer’s EURO triumph, Sarina Wiegman had already promoted Lauren James, Maya Le Tissier, Jess Park, Katie Robinson and Ebony Salmon from the Under-23s.

And last week Ramsey became the latest when she was selected as one of four goalkeepers for the Arnold Clark Cup.

“I have spoken to Sarina in the past so when I saw it was her calling, I was a little bit nervous actually!” Ramsey said.

“I was thinking ‘O God what is it going to be?’ Then she told me she would like me to come to camp because I had been doing well.

“I didn’t know what to say to her, I was just thankful and really looking forward to it.”

17 Feb 2023 8:30

England 4-0 Korea Republic | Highlights

Lauren James shines in Arnold Clark Cup opener in Milton Keynes

This is not Ramsey’s first foray into the England senior set-up though.

Back in the summer of 2021 the Manchester United goalkeeper, who is currently on loan at Everton, was brought into the squad as an injury replacement for Karen Bardsley.

Then in October 2022, Ramsey joined Ellie Roebuck for a training session with the senior coaching staff as both goalkeepers did not have a game that day.

But even before then, Wiegman was well aware of Ramsey’s talent as she has regular meetings with the WU23 coach Mo Marley and her staff to hear about the players’ development and make sure the teams are aligned.

Ramsey said: “The contact I’d had with Sarina before made me feel like I was close to the seniors and it was something I was striving for.

“It made me more comfortable and I worked with Darren Ward in the last international window due to the session I did with Roebuck, so it was good to know I was coming into an environment which was not 100 per cent new.”

Emily Ramsey had worked with the England senior team coaching staff during a camp earlier this season
Emily Ramsey had worked with the England senior team coaching staff during a camp earlier this season

The Under-23 side was reintroduced following the arrival of Wiegman in September 2021 as a way of bridging the gap between the England youth teams and the senior side, for a group of players which included many who missed an Under-19 EURO because of the COVID pandemic. 

The FA brought hugely experienced coach Marley out of retirement to guide the Under-23s and it is helping to ease the progression to the seniors. 

Ramsey said: “The WU23s is really important. I think you can see from the senior call-ups over the last year just how many of them have come from the Under-23s.

“The messages we get from Mo in the Under-23s are in line with what you get when you step up and are in line with what Sarina wants and expects.

“The WU23s have been an important part of the transition and if you are getting called up to the WU23s every time and in my case last time I was captain, it makes you feel like it is a natural progression to the senior team.”

Ramsey is not short of familiar faces in camp. Growing up, she played in the same Manchester United Centre of Excellence team – on alternate years – as Ella Toone, with Katie Zelem among those she looked up to in the older age groups.

And after joining the England talent pathway at 15, she played in the same year group as Lauren Hemp and Esme Morgan, with the likes of James, Park and Salmon sometimes playing up at major tournaments. 

Ramsey herself also moved up to be part of the England WU20 squad who won bronze at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2018.

The goalkeeper captained England WU23s earlier this season
The goalkeeper captained England WU23s earlier this season

That squad included not only Hemp and Morgan but Niamh Charles, Sandy MacIver, Roebuck, Alessia Russo and Georgia Stanway.

Ramsey said: “It is good to come into a team where you know there are other players who are relatively new as well. 

“There are also a lot of girls who I have played with in the past so it has made me feel really comfortable in stepping up.”

Ramsey was part of an England senior team who kicked off their Arnold Clark Cup campaign on Thursday night with a 4-0 win over Korea Republic.

Next up are another two Arnold Clark Cup games on Sunday and Wednesday against Italy and Belgium respectively, before two matches in April, which include the first-ever Women’s Finalissima at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.

Ramsey will then be among those hoping to make the squad for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, not that she is focusing on that yet.

She said: “Initially my hopes for this year were just to solidify my spot at Everton, get some minutes and perform well in the WSL.

“From that, now I am really grateful to have the opportunity to come to camp. There are four goalkeepers here but there will not be four goalkeepers at the World Cup. Obviously, we know that but I am just striving to keep performing well and keep pushing on.

“Obviously I would love to be at the World Cup but I am not putting an expectation on myself. It is just something which might or might not happen and if it does, then that is amazing.”

Girls at an FA regional talent centre

Discovering a new generation of talent