February Squad Announced

Latest squad announced for February's training camp.

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Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Hege Riise has named a 20 strong squad for the Lionesses friendly against Northern Ireland later this month.

This will mark the first time the Lionesses have played with Riise at the helm, acting as interim manager, and will also be the team’s first official fixture since the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020.

Preparing for her first meeting with the squad and subsequent match, Riise explained her ambition to instil a lost confidence back into the squad, “that’s something we’re trying to work on with this group. We have to believe we can dictate every game and the team has to be connected. We want them to enjoy stepping on to the field for England and not to be anxious.”

Confidence is seemingly a catching point with the English side. During Phil Neville’s tenure the Lionesses dropped from 3rd to 6th in the world rankings and Neville saw out his time with a cluster of lacklustre and disjointed performances. The Lionesses never fully recovered from their semi-final defeat in the 2019 World Cup, their road to recovery dampened by stubbornness and defensiveness radiating from Riise’s predecessor. A change of personnel is exactly what the national side need.

Riise has opted for a balanced mix of experience and youth in her first selection. A sensible decision in gathering a somewhat familiar group together after a year long fixture hiatus, but the gradual introduction of talented youngsters shows great promise for the future.

A smaller squad than generally chosen as of late, notable absentees include Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford, Manchester United’s Lucy Staniforth, Lauren James, Katie Zelem and Millie Turner, Everton’s Izzy Christiansen, Lyon forward Nikita Parris, Atletico Madrid’s Toni Duggan, Manchester City defenders Esme Morgan and Demi Stokes, Tottenham’s Abbie McManus and Arsenal winger Beth Mead.

Addressing the decision not to include Mead, Riise said, ““the player report wasn’t that great”. Whilst this may seem a direct, it is important to consider that the bluntness of the comment may have been a little lost in translation. The postponement of several Arsenal matches will have not helped Mead’s case. Nevertheless, it should serve as a wake-up call not only to Mead, but to other regular picks that from now on places will be offered on merit, not by name.

With that being said, it was perhaps surprising not to see Manchester United’s Leah Galton make the cut. Galton has been instrumental for the Red Devils, being present with both scoring and creating, so much so that she won the WSL’s Player of the Month in December. Similarly, Tottenham defender Ashleigh Neville misses out despite having the most tackles won of any English player in the domestic league so far.

However, it must be measured that this is only Riise’s first appointment and that the Lionesses’ evolution is a long-term venture. It is perhaps sensible to bide time, to proceed with a thoughtful caution and avoid a rash revolution.

The Lionesses will take on Northern Ireland on Tuesday 23rd February at St. George’s Park. Kick-off commences at 12:30pm (GMT) and the match will be svailable to watch on BBC iPLayer and the BBC Red Button.

Full squad:
Goalkeepers: Ellie Roebuck, Sandy MacIver, Hannah Hampton
Defenders: Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood, Rachel Daly, Lotte Wubben-Moy
Midfielders: Keira Walsh, Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone
Forwards: Fran Kirby, Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp, Ellen White, Bethany England