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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Wiegman close to knowing England team but Bronze misses final tune-up | England women’s football team

Sarina Wiegman has said she is “really close” to knowing her XI for England’s Euros opener against Austria next Wednesday, as she prepares for Thursday’s final pre-tournament friendly against Switzerland.

Ellen White is back training with the squad after Covid but Lucy Bronze will miss the match in Zurich after feeling unwell. The Football Association said the right-back was returning to England “as a precautionary measure to aid her recovery” but had tested negative for Covid and would be monitored.

“We’re close but it’s hard,” Wiegman said of the starting lineup. “And, even though we’re close, you still have the opportunities to change it a little bit, because the level is so high and it’s so close [between the players] that we have many options.”

The biggest questions are around who will start at No 10, with Fran Kirby, Georgia Stanway and Ella Toone in contention, which of Demi Stokes and Rachel Daly will play at left-back and who will start at centre-forward or is back-up to White should she not be ready after a week out.

“We watch players every day, of course we talk to the players every day,” Wiegman said.

Asked whether Arsenal’s Beth Mead could be deployed as a No 9, after England’s top scorer under Wiegman drifted in from the wing to great effect against the Netherlands last Friday, Wiegman replied with a smile: “That’s a very good question.”

“She has played as a 9,” Wiegman said. “With us, she hasn’t played as a 9 – we took other options with that. Maybe we have it in mind. We haven’t tried it yet because she played at the side [wide] a lot.”

Wiegman highlighted the promising return of Chloe Kelly after her long-term ACL injury – the Manchester City forward made her first England appearance in over a year against Belgium earlier this month. “Now Chloe [Kelly] is back. We hadn’t worked with Chloe; we have more options up front”

The manager said White had flown to Switzerland to join the squad and was ready to train. “She has been training over in England and now she can join football training again. So, we’ll take it from here and build her up again.”

White was welcomed back to training with cheers and a round of applause at the start of the final session before the Switzerland game.

“You want to have all your choices,” Wiegman said. “She was very disappointed she had to step out, and we were too. While we were disappointed by that, it gives other players opportunities to show where they are at the moment. So, you know, every bad thing has a good thing around it.” The only absentee from Basel’s training pitch was Bronze.

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Switzerland will offer a different test after games against Belgium and the Netherlands. “I don’t think Switzerland will have the level of the Netherlands, especially the Netherlands of the first half, but they are a good opponent,” Wiegman said. “They had a bit of a setback against Germany [losing 7-0 last Friday] so they might want to change a couple of things, be a little bit more defensive and maybe not as open as they were against Germany, but we will see. We have to deal with the situation we have in front of us and find the solutions to play through pressure.”

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