England’s U17s began their European qualifying campaign with defeat to Russia in Inowroclaw.
“What we have been trying to do is switch fields very quickly, and then find spaces and have crosses also, and be relentless. I think that was ok. When you score 10, it’s pretty good.”
These were the words of a satisfied Sarina Wiegman as England wrapped up a successful first camp, securing an emphatic victory over Luxembourg without having to move out of second gear.
Sarina Wiegman’s England era got off to a high-scoring start on a balmy September evening in Southampton. On a night that saw glimpses of the present and the future, the Lionesses eased past North Macedonia, left with only the feeling that it should have been more emphatic.
A new era begins this week as England’s Lionesses start life under their new manager, Sarina Wiegman. A renowned name in the women’s game, the Dutch national brings with her plenty of prestige and experience. Her arrival also brings hope that she will oversee a change in fortunes for the Lionesses side that has won just four of their last 12 matches since the completion of the World Cup in 2019.
524 days is how long England U19s coach, Lydia Bedford, has calculated since her group of young footballers had an international fixture. It is a large amount of time by any stretch, but particularly so in the cycle of youth football that prepares the next generation for their senior careers.
The Lionesses are on the road for the first time since March 2020. Tonight, they travel to Caen to take on a notoriously tough, if depleted, French side. It will be a first chance for interim head coach, Hege Riise, to see her new charges take on a tier one opposition. Her squad announcement included a couple of surprises, with Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford returning to the fold. Niamh Charles was also called up, while Esme Morgan and Nikita Parris joined late. Captain Steph Houghton misses out through injury.
Riise spoke to the press before the game on a number of key areas:
Just under two years ago, Ella Toone was preparing to travel out to Sweden with the England U21s. The latest Nordic tournament awaited a squad who, under the watchful eye of Mo Marley, were trying to gain all the experience they could as they attempted to make the step up to senior international football.
To say it has been a long time since a competitive England fixture is somewhat of an understatement. 349 days (502,560 minutes or 5,584 games in case you were wondering!) since they faced Spain in the SheBelieves Cup, they will finally line up tomorrow lunch time to face Northern Ireland.
If it feels like we’ve been here before, then you are right. But once again, we can say…500 days to go! Euro 2022 is starting to become a very real and exciting prospect. Sitting in Wembley this time last year, listening to the plans for the tournament, it was hard not to be enthusiastic about the upcoming competition. And now, after the toughest of years, the sight of this celebration of the women’s game on the horizon is anticipated more eagerly than ever.