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Published 31 May 2023 7 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Sarina Wiegman explains her England Women squad for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Written by:

Frank Smith

Bethany England, Maya Le Tissier, Beth Mead and Leah Williamson were just some of the players discussed during the head coach's press conference

England head coach Sarina Wiegman sat down with the media on Wednesday after naming her 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad.

As expected, captain Leah Williamson, the talented Fran Kirby and Beth Mead have all missed out due to injury, while Wiegman was also asked about other key absentees and inclusions.

Two of the players who missed out on the 23-player squad are Maya Le Tissier and Jess Park, although both are set to travel to Australia as part of the pre-tournament preparations, with Emily Ramsey also on standby and the goalkeeper will train with the Lionesses at St. George’s Park until June 27.

One of the players to earn a recall was Bethany England, after she impressed following the move to Tottenham Hotspur, and the experienced striker was just one of the topics Wiegman was asked about during her press conference at community club Boldmere St. Michaels FC in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham.

You can read some of Wiegman’s responses below and see the full press conference at the bottom of the page.

England Women's World Cup squad

Question: How hectic and how stressful have the last 24 hours been?

Wiegman: “We have had to make hard decisions, and it's nice for the ones who are in and it's not nice for the ones who are not in. 

“We've had very good conversations with the technical staff and we follow players really well, but it has [still] been really hard.”

Question: Were there tough decisions?

Wiegman: “Yeah, of course, because we've been with the bigger squad in spring so we've seen lots of players and they all worked so hard to get in the squad and lots of them did play really well, but you have to pick 23.”

Lucy Bronze has been an integral part of England's squad for much of the last decade
Lucy Bronze has been an integral part of England's squad for much of the last decade

Question: How fit are Lucy Bronze and Millie Bright?

Wiegman: “Lucy is fit and she's fully in training. She's getting ready for the Women’s Champions League Final this Saturday.

“And Millie is in a good place, so we're positive. She's still building, but we have some time, and so she'll be with us too. But we need to build a little more. But it looks good.”

Question: How important is it to have those two match-fit going into the tournament?

Wiegman: “Of course, you want them in because they have an important role for the team and they have impact. But you never know what happens in football. So we think of the squad now: who do we have, what positions can the players play, and what's the next step? So we're always prepared with them and without them.”

Question: How disappointing is it that Leah Williamson isn't fit enough to be in the squad? 

Wiegman: “Yeah, of course, most of all for her, it's very, very disappointing and very sad. But that's the same for Fran Kirby and the same for Beth Mead. But you have to move on, too. So this is, unfortunately, part of top sports that you can get injured. It's a physical game. 

“You hope to make that risk as small as possible but it can happen and then someone else has to step up and it gives someone else the opportunity to take responsibility. That is how we approach it.”

Beth Mead suffered a season-ending injury back in November
Beth Mead suffered a season-ending injury back in November

Question: Was there ever a chance that Beth Mead could have been in this squad?

Wiegman: “No, I don't think so. Beth is so positive and she's going really well but with the time schedule she had, we would have taken so many risks to try to get her to the World Cup. 
“To push her too much, she could get injured again and we have to take care of players and do what's smart and not do what's a little bit naive.”

Question: Beth England hasn’t been seen in an England squad since September, why did you decide to make that call?

Wiegman: “Because of her performances. Of course, she was at Chelsea and she didn't get the minutes. She didn't build that much credit for us because we hardly saw her play but then she made a move, and she started playing in a hard situation because Tottenham were having a hard time. 

“But how she did, and how she performed, and also how much resilience she showed, I think that made us make the decision to get her in the squad.”

Question: How different is this squad going to be for you to coach, and expectation-wise as well, going into the tournament?

Wiegman: “We approach it always like we want to be at our best and that's what we're going for right now too. 

“Yes, you talk a little bit, we're in transition now, with some changes in the team, but I still think we're really good and we have very talented players.

“We're just going to make sure that we're going to be at our best and then we see how far we get but I think we're still in a pretty good place.”

Question: For Katie Robinson, it's obviously been a difficult season at Brighton. How impressive is it that a player has pushed her way into a squad when she's been playing at a club who have really struggled?

Wiegman: “I think we've all seen that she's very talented, but she has made a difference at Brighton, so she has had some decisive games for the club and that was hard. And with us in our camp, she really showed quality too, so she made us choose her.”

Maya Le Tissier has missed out on the initial 23-player squad but will travel to Australia as a standby player
Maya Le Tissier has missed out on the initial 23-player squad but will travel to Australia as a standby player

Question: How close was Maya Le Tissier to making the main squad?

Wiegman: “Of course, she was really close and she will be training with the team as a standby player. 

“That was a really hard call. With all of the defenders, we had lots to think about and she didn’t quite make the 23. 

“We see her a little bit more as a right back, rather than a right centre-back which she plays with her club, and she has had a really good season with Manchester United but this is the decision that we make.”

Question: What was the toughest decision you had to take? 

Wiegman: “There were a couple. I don't think you can say there's one tough decision because you're talking about individuals, you're talking about positions, but you're also talking about combinations and balancing the team. 

“So when you pick one player that has consequences for other parts in your team. So that has been really hard. But I wouldn't just pick out one because it all relates to each other.”