England v Belgium: Nations League Preview
Everything you need to know ahead of England's Nations League matches against Belgium
England face a double-header against Belgium in the UEFA Women’s Nations League A over the next week. They first meet at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium on Friday evening and then again in Leuven, Belgium on Tuesday when I am sure the Lionesses hope they won’t face any shocks or surprises or put on a horror show on Halloween.
Last month, England got their Nations League campaign off to a mixed start with a 2-1 win over Scotland but then suffered a last-minute 1-2 defeat away to the Netherlands. They are currently third in the group.
Belgium are top of the group and undefeated having beaten the Netherlands 2-1 at home and then drew 1-1 against Scotland at Hampden Park when they conceded a stoppage time equaliser.
Sarina Wiegman named both Manchester City’s goalkeeper Khiara Keating and Tottenham Hotspur’s (on loan from Manchester United) attacking midfielder Grace Clinton in the senior Lionesses squad for the first time after they had great starts to the domestic season. When speaking to the media about them after the squad announcement, Wiegman said "I want to see how they relate to the other players in the squad and for them to show what they can do. They performed really well. We saw them also in the U23s. Now at the highest level they have shown performances. It's exciting for them and good to see for us too."
Also recalled after injuries are Fran Kirby and Keira Walsh, with Kirby being named in the squad for the first time since February (though she withdrew then) and looking to make her first appearance for the national side in just over a year.
Wiegman remarked "Of course it's very nice Fran is back on the pitch and she's fit and healthy" and noted that she has been playing well for Chelsea since coming back after knee surgery that saw her miss the World Cup. The Lionesses manager also said it was nice to have Walsh back after a calf injury kept her out of the September games.
In her news conference ahead of Friday’s game, Wiegman announced that Lauren James is not available for either game against Belgium after picking up a concussion injury in training and will return to Chelsea. Lotte Wubben-Moy is back on the pitch and will be assessed before the match, Wiegman also confirmed.
The Belgian Red Flames long serving head coach Ives Serneels has named some familiar Women’s Super League names in their squad including Brighton & Hove Albion’s on loan from Chelsea goalkeeper Nicky Evrard, Everton’s Justine Vanhaevermaet, Yana Daniels of Liverpool and Leicester City’s Janice Cayman.
Former Manchester City forward Tessa Wullaert is the sides captain and record goalscorer with 75 goals.
The Lionesses and the Red Flames have met a couple of times over the last 18 months. In June 2022,
England beat Belgium 3-0 in Wolverhampton in a pre-Euro friendly. The goals on that warm summer evening came from Chloe Kelly, Rachel Daly and an own goal from Evrard. In February this year, the two sides played each other in the Arnold Clark Cup in Bristol with the Lionesses winning 6-1 as they won that iconic cup again. Kelly and Leah Williamson scored twice that night with the other goals coming from Lucy Bronze and a Julie Biesmans own goal whilst Elena Dhont got Belgium’s late consolation one.
Both matches will be shown live on ITV4/ITVX with Friday’s kicking off at 7:45pm (BST) and Tuesday’s at 7:30pm (GMT). There is radio coverage of both matches on TalkSport2 whilst Friday’s can also be heard on Radio 5 Sports Extra.