With the 2022 Women’s European Championships fast approaching, England Lionesses head coach Sarina Weigman has attempted to select a balanced squad for qualifiers and friendlies – with one eye set on the final 23-player squad that she will select for the summer.
We have seen lots of consistency in who she has selected for the squad, with a huge array of talent and squad competition at her disposal.
In the lead up to the Euros, we look here at a breakdown of her squad selection, strong areas, and areas in need of strengthening and or decision making. In today’s feature, we will be looking predominantly at the wingers/wide forwards that England have.
The wide forwards
When it comes to the forwards that Weigman gets to choose from, she’s very much spoilt for choice.
Even just glancing at the forward lines of the big three – especially Manchester City, you could make up a world-class forward line using their players alone.
The balance of the forward options is what makes that area particularly strong as we get both providers and finishers in almost every candidate.
Electric pace is a huge part of the system that the Lionesses play and within that, they have so many people that they can count on.
Lauren Hemp is the quickest player in the league and probably one of the quickest players that will be at the Euro’s this summer.
Her unique blend of pace and decision-making despite being so young makes her an almost definite starter for England, as her skill set is an absolute nightmare for defenders.
She has now added goals to her game for country which makes her even more of a threat.
Arsenal’s Beth Mead similarly brings technical proficiency and goal scoring prowess from one of the wide positions.
Having played across the forward line throughout her career from Sunderland to Arsenal, there is a level of consistency that Mead brings.
When her team needs a goal, she’s often able to provide it, as well her ability to pick out the right pass to her teammate who can also score.
Mead’s traits mean that it also take away some of the pressure off the main striker playing on the day. She is a reliable goal scorer, and with that brings confidence to Weigman that she’s able to alter and rotate the front line without sacrificing goals that will win matches.
This in turn will also give Weigman the upper hand when picking starting line-ups – especially in the tournament setting.
Nikita Parris is expected to be selected and what someone like Parris brings is supreme experience. Having played at Championship winning teams at club Level and been a core part of Lionesses teams that have done well at prior tournaments.
A last-minute addition to bolster the wing options would be Chloe Kelly. Whilst she has missed 75% of the season due to an ACL injury she suffered last year, her talent and what she’d bring to the team cannot be understated. As mentioned before, she is someone else who brings both goals and assists to the team.
She’s arguably the most technically and naturally gifted winger that England have – with her ability to combine both her technical ability on the ball when dribbling, but also when linking up with teammates.
Like Hemp, she’s also someone that is extremely blessed when it comes to pace, which as seen in most European defences, that’s an area that they struggle with.
Selecting someone who hasn’t been able to showcase their skillset across the whole season is often seen as a risk. But when it comes to someone of Kelly’s calibre, it appears to be a risk worth taking when it comes to having a unique skill set and being a game changer for them.
A late addition?
With Fran Kirby taking some recovery time away from football in order to get healthy from an ongoing issue that’s plagued her throughout her career, she’s expected to miss the Euro’s – having not featured since the end of February.
That’s not to rule her out completely from contention as we know that a fully fit Kirby walks into most teams in the world. However, Weigman will be cautious not to rush her back as her regaining full health is the most important thing for all parties.
Could we see a late addition to the Lionesses squad with someone who hasn’t received a call up since Weigman’s tenure began? For example, Man City starlet Jess Park who has had an impactful season, or Manchester United’s Leah Galton who continued her fine form from last season.
Because of squad restrictions, I’m not sure Weigman calls up somebody new.
This decision would be supported by the fact that many of her attacking midfield options are also extremely strong and comfortable on the wing – having played their numerous times throughout the season for club.
They also have such versatility amongst the wingers themselves that I think that Weigman will opt to find the solution ‘in-house’. Though that’s not to say that we won’t get a surprise inclusion as often seems to happen when international tournaments happen.