Sarina Wiegman: 'It was a very nice phone call, she was very happy'
Sarina Wiegman explains her England squad selection for the UEFA Nations League fixtures against the Netherlands and Scotland
See below for a selection of her answers as the head coach talked through a host of topics, including the return of Beth Mead and the absence of players like Ellie Roebuck and Aggie Beever-Jones.
Sarina, how good was it to be able to call Beth Mead and tell her she was in the squad? Or did she call you and tell you she was ok?
“No she did that months ago! No, of course, it was really nice. She's played minutes, she's in a good place whilst she is still building, too.
“But yes it was a very nice phone call, and she was very happy.”
What sort of conversations have you had with Arsenal and her, considering she only started her first league game two days ago?
We have had conversations all the time, so we had conversations before and after the September camp and we did the same in October too because she was already fully training and getting some minutes.
“But I just wanted to see a little more and that's what we've seen now. Her health is really good, so she can just go.
“She has shown in games that she's in a good place and of course we want her to keep growing and improving, but she's shown enough for me and for my technical staff to bring her in.”
🎙 Sarina Wiegman join us live from St. George's Park! 🎙 https://t.co/3o9WFgq4yj— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 21, 2023
It is well-documented what a character she is. How much of a lift can she give this group of players when you need a lift in these last couple of games?
“She is a character that brings positive energy on the pitch and off the pitch. I think we have more players like that but it's good to have her back of course.
“Her experience, the way she plays and where she's different than other players on the wing because she brings different things, so it is good for the team because we have different opportunities.
“So yes I expect on and off the pitch that she will give us some extra energy.”
You talked about not panicking after the last defeat but are you going to do some things differently because it is three losses in your last five games and you do really need to win your next two games?
“Yeah, we absolutely do [need to win those games]. I think in the Belgium game, the difference between us and them was so big but we just didn't win the game, which is not good of course.
“Then there was the Netherlands and the World Cup final against Spain. But that last result was not really a reflection of how we were in camp. So yes, we're in a situation where we absolutely need wins but our approach will not all of a sudden change.
“You always think after a camp, well maybe we should have done this or that and even when we win I do that. It is just now the urgency is higher but we are always under pressure to win games and we always want to win games. That's the expectation from the outside world, but also from ourselves.
“It's pretty challenging too. So I'm actually really looking forward to the next camp. We're playing at Wembley and hopefully it is sold out again and the team will be very eager to get a good result – and so will I.”
Beth Mead | Off The Pitch
Forward joins Josh Denzel to take a walk around St. George's Park and answers a host of questions, but with one rule - no football chat!
The squad seems familiar, with lots of experience in there. Was that something you thought about, knowing these games were crucial, compared with bringing in some newer or less experienced players?
"You try to find a balance. Of course, it's all about quality – first it is starts with quality. But also this would not be a moment for you to provide just experience a little bit because we know what we have to do.
“So, yes, that's also one of the reasons we didn't want to change but it begins with starts with quality.”
With Beth Mead coming back in, it seems so competitive in those positions?
“Yes, absolutely. We have so many options.”
And with the likes of Ebony Salmon, Jess Park and Katie Robinson, who have obviously been in the squads before, that is another stumbling block for them as well in terms of having that competition?
“Yes, there's a huge competition in that position. Of course, you're not going to select ten wingers because then you don't have a balance in your squads, but it gives opportunities and competition. Then the players will thrive in driving themselves. I think that's good for the game and for England and hard for us to make decisions.”
No English player has scored more league goals this season than Aggie Beever-Jones, how close was she to the squad?
“Yes, she scored a nice goal this weekend too. She's in our conversations but I think it's a little bit too early when you consider the competition we were just talking about.
“We see good things and she's in the Under-23s. We have contact with Chelsea and of course the England Under-23s so it's really good that she can get the minutes there and keep developing, and I hope she just keeps improving and gives us headaches again with our selection.”
How is Ellie Roebuck and have you had the chance to speak to her because I guess it has been a very tough few months for her, not playing at Manchester City and now out of the England squad?
“Yes, of course. That's really hard for her, with the position she has at her club now. And we did have conversations last time around and we decided to go with four goalkeepers.
“Now we went back to three and so I had to give her a hard message that we didn't pick her for now.
“Of course, she's in a hard position and she just has to work hard and see if she can find opportunities. Right now, in the very short term, that's probably not going to happen.”
You have gone back to a 23-player squad, was that a deliberate thing to go back to 23 players?
“Last camp, we had a little bit of different context but for now, these were the players we wanted to see.
“Also with the goalkeepers, we went back to three and that was very deliberate with the context we have right now and the two games coming up.”
The Champions League is back. With the timing of these games, does that mean you might have to use more of your squad and rotate more between the two games than usual?
“We approach the games to win. Of course, we'll see how players come in. It’s a very busy period now for all the players who have Champions League football so when they come in, we'll see how they are and we will try to get everyone ready for the Friday game and then also the Tuesday game.
“We'll see. But we'll set up the starting line-ups with players who are fresh and ready to play, and who we think are the best at that moment. We’ll set up to win the game."
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