Sarina Wiegman will confirm her 23-player squad for Euro 2022 on Wednesday evening UK time. While in previous years, there were few question marks around who Wiegman’s predecessors would select for major tournaments, a combination of an ever-increasing player pool and some fitness question marks around previously safe selections in the squad has created plenty of debate surrounding the identities of the five players who will miss out on what is possibly a once-in-a-career opportunity to play at a home tournament.
Looking at Wiegman’s time in charge so far and the characteristics of what may be required to go out and win the Euros, plus an eye on another major tournament that’s just 12 months away, we try and work out who is safe and who isn’t for Wednesday’s cut.
This position within the squad feels somewhat more brutal than the outfield roles. While four outfield players will miss out, only one of the current four goalkeepers in the squad will miss out and be dropped from the GK Union.
Mary Earps — Wiegman has asserted Earps is her number one and the Manchester United goalkeeper has taken her chance in the injury-induced absence of main rival Roebuck.
Ellie Roebuck — Roebuck didn’t get to work with Wiegman until much later than she would have hoped or planned after her injury took longer to overcome than first thought and has only played one game under the new head coach, but in reality, there are few doubts over Roebuck’s credentials and she returned to the Manchester City team in good form.
Hannah Hampton — Hampton is likely to get the nod as the third goalkeeper given she has enjoyed a good club season at Aston Villa but has crucially featured twice under Wiegman, with her impressive debut against Spain only emphasising her quality.
Sandy MacIver — On the flip side, Everton goalkeeper MacIver is yet to step on the pitch under Wiegman’s guidance; while clearly talented, she has every chance of making the squads in the future. It would be a surprise if she pips Hampton to the final spot.
Minutes Played Under Wiegman
In: Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Hannah Hampton
Out: Sandy MacIver
This is arguably Wiegman’s toughest question to answer comes in. While in past squads there would not even be a question mark over former captain of eight years Steph Houghton, the Manchester City defender is yet to feature for England since Wiegman took over due to injury. Alongside a talented group of defenders, that will be the decision everyone looks toward at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Millie Bright — There’s very few question marks around the majority of defenders and that starts with Bright. The Chelsea rock has been a constant presence in the Lionesses team for some time now and has featured more under Wiegman than any other defender, even adding five goals as an insurance policy on her spot on the coach.
Alex Greenwood — The Manchester City star will likely partner Bright at the heart of the England defence, a sentence that even a year ago would have sounded odd when she was left behind by Team GB head coach Hege Riise. Greenwood, though, has been a revelation at center back for her club.
Rachel Daly — It feels unfair to keep giving Daly the “versatile” tag given she is consistently one of the top scorers in the National Women’s Soccer League, but her role as a defender for the Lionesses makes her just that. A solid presence, Daly has featured more than enough at both ends of the pitch to be included.
Demi Stokes — Stokes has always been a steady presence in the England squad and with Greenwood not shifted inside alongside Bright, there’s really nobody to give the Manchester City left back a run for her money and her spot in the squad as things stand.
Jess Carter — What a renaissance for Carter. Someone who would likely have had little chance for an inclusion had the tournament taken place as scheduled 12 months ago, has game by game worked her way further and further into Wiegman’s plans, crucially being trusted to start two games in the Arnold Clark Cup against the two toughest European sides England has faced under new leadership so far. Surely has a spot.
Lucy Bronze — It took a little longer for Bronze to make her debut under Wiegman due to injury, but she has cemented the right back spot which she’s made her own over the past seven years, and despite only five appearances and 358 minutes, Bronze will be in the squad.
Lotte Wubben-Moy — This is where things get tricky. The young Arsenal defender is untried and untested at the highest level of international football, but has featured in almost half of Wiegman’s games so far. If Houghton is selected, it will likely be Wubben-Moy who misses out, but with fitness and games under her belt and Wiegman aware Wubben-Moy is likelier to be in her squads in 2023 and 2025 than Houghton, Wiegman may just lean toward the Arsenal player.
Niamh Charles — Charles certainly has both talent and versatility going for her, but with Bronze, Daly, and Carter all ahead of her in the race for the right back spot, and Daly able to cover bases further up the pitch too, one sole appearance for Charles under Wiegman so far makes it hard to believe she will be in the squad.
Steph Houghton — The million-dollar question. Every argument has been made both for and against the returning former captain, but the reality is Houghton is yet to feature for Wiegman and only played a handful of games for her club last season. During training she has looked fit, and the experience argument may be what sways things, but England also has plenty of that in abundance elsewhere. It would not be a shock at all to see Houghton included, but Wiegman hasn’t been afraid to make tough decisions regarding senior players in her past role with the Netherlands. Houghton may just be left behind.
Minutes Played Under Wiegman
In: Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood, Rachel Daly, Demi Stokes, Jess Carter, Lucy Bronze, Lotte Wubben-Moy
Out: Niamh Charles, Steph Houghton
An area in which England has always lacked a little bit of depth, but things are looking a little bit more competitive in the middle of the park this time around, with the emergence of the likes of Ella Toone, captain Leah Williamson being moved forward, and Fran Kirby returning from injury.
Georgia Stanway — Stanway has gone about her business quietly and successfully under Wiegman, featuring in every game but one and contributing to 15 goals between her own strikes and nine assists. The new Bayern Munich signing is looking pretty good for a key role this summer.
Keira Walsh — Had it not been for injury, Walsh would likely have featured in every game under Wiegman given her prominence since returning. There’s no doubt the Manchester City midfielder will be in the squad.
Leah Williamson — Walsh will likely be joined in the midfield by the new captain. Williamson will wear the armband; that in itself confirms she will be in Wiegman’s squad on Wednesday.
Fran Kirby — Perhaps surprising to see Kirby high up the list of midfielders when it comes to games played given her injury issues, but the Chelsea star has featured in more than half of the games since Wiegman took over and has five assists to show for it. Her impressive performance against Germany was a timely reminder of what Kirby can do and if she’s proven her fitness, Wiegman will likely select her.
Jill Scott — In terms of minutes, Scott has been a periphery figure, but it’s hard not to see her being in the squad. Her performance against Spain was a reminder of what she can still offer at the top level and if Houghton doesn’t make it, her experience for the many in the squad who haven’t experienced a major tournament will become even more important.
Katie Zelem — A potential wildcard. Zelem has only featured for 38 minutes across two games for Wiegman but there’s a feeling off the back of a good club season, in which she was a consistent source of goals and assists, that Zelem may just make it. Her setpiece prowess may also prove important if she does get on the pitch, as is a lack of depth in midfield compared to other positions. Zelem has also shown willingness to play in defense too, which can only help her case.
Lucy Staniforth — Coming back from injury, Staniforth is yet to step on the field for England under Wiegman. No doubt there’s quality there, but it’s hard to see the Manchester United midfielder making the cut.
Minutes Played Under Wiegman
In: Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, Jill Scott, Katie Zelem
Out: Lucy Staniforth
If England has a chance of winning their home Euros, this may be where it’s won. With the emergence of Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp, Alessia Russo, and Chloe Kelly since the last major tournament three years ago, and the experience around them, Wiegman has plenty of options in attack, and deciding who doesn’t get to go is looking like a very tough decision.
Ellen White — The leading forward is one of only two players to feature in every game since Wiegman took over and has 11 goals to show for it, as well as the new record as England’s leading scorer after overtaking Kelly Smith. No doubt White is in the squad.
Ella Toone — The other player to feature in every game under Wiegman is Toone, who has come right into the reckoning over the past 12 months. The youngster still has another step to take from what we’ve seen in some of England’s tougher tests so far, but there’s little doubt Toone will make the squad.
Lauren Hemp — Another with absolutely no question marks alongside their name. Hemp’s goals and assists, plus her pace and skill, make her an absolute certainty to make the squad, just days after winning her fourth young player of the year award.
Beth Mead — Again, another one absolutely certain to make the squad and deservedly so after being left out 12 months ago for Team GB.
Nikita Parris — With the first four attacking spots practically signed, sealed, and delivered, the final four candidates is where things get trickier, with at least one set to miss out. Parris may prove a polarizing choice given an underwhelming club season, but she has featured in all but one of Wiegman’s games, often coming on to use her pace and experience late in games, and it’s hard to imagine someone who has figured so regularly so far won’t be selected by the same coach.
Beth England — This is a really tough one. England has scored six goals in six games under Wiegman but crucially missed the chance to impress against the top opposition Arnold Clark Cup offered. Wiegman is yet to see England against Europe’s best and with others also offering more versatility, it may just be England who misses out, but an inclusion also wouldn’t be a shock.
Alessia Russo – Surprisingly, Russo has only featured four times so far under Wiegman despite a good season at club level. The youngster struggled a little bit against better opposition at the Arnold Clark Cup, but given she’s had a good year, offers another option as a number nine, or out on the wing, it would be a surprise to see Russo left out.
Chloe Kelly – Kelly’s inclusion will come down to whether Wiegman feels she has seen enough of her to build trust and a relationship as she has with Russo, Parris, and England. Kelly’s lack of appearances would make her the easy one to leave out, but the reality is Kelly was in the form of her life before her injury and hasn’t looked like she’s been away when vitally getting game time under her belt toward the end of the season. There’s a nagging feeling Wiegman will go for Kelly’s quality.
Minutes Played Under Wiegman
In: Ellen White, Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Alessia Russo, Chloe Kelly
Out: Beth England
Wiegman has some tough decisions to make and quite a few of her one-on-one meetings with players will undoubtedly be tough. She could easily opt to drop both Zelem and Staniforth from midfield in order to select both Wubben-Moy and Houghton, or flip it and drop both defenders in need of extra midfield depth.
That could also be said of the attack, where she may opt to take all eight of them and sacrifice depth elsewhere, but it’s hard to imagine there aren’t at least 18 players by now who are feeling pretty good about their chances of making their home European Championships.