England squad: Sarina Wiegman makes surprise changes ahead of Brazil and Australia fixtures

·4 min read
Lotte Wubben-Moy drops out of England’s squad   (The FA via Getty Images)
Lotte Wubben-Moy drops out of England’s squad (The FA via Getty Images)

Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy and Manchester United captain Katie Zelem have been dropped from the England squad to face Brazil and Australia next month.

Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman has recalled Manchester City defender Esme Morgan and goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, while uncapped West Ham defender Lucy Parker has also made the 25-player squad.

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Elsewhere, there continues to be no place for striker Bethany England despite her goalscoring form since joining Tottenham, while Houston Dash forward Ebony Salmon also misses out having been included in the previous three squads.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Hampton returns for the squad for the first time since missing out due to “personal issues” earlier this season, with Wiegman confident the matter has been resolved. “As I said over all the other camps, she needed to sort out some personal issues,” the Lionesses manager said. “She has done that, she has shown great performances, she has shown consistency and done that at her club first, so I thought this was the moment to bring her in.”

Wubben-Moy was a member of England’s Euro 2022 winning squad and was the driving force behind the Lionesses’s push for equal access to sport for girls in schools, but Wiegman said other defenders have been preferred due to their versatility. Zelem is also a surprise omission given her form for Mark Skinner’s Women’s Super League leaders.

“That’s a hard one,” Wiegman said, on what was her final squad announcement before a preliminary World Cup group is named in June. “It has to do with the plans I have in those positions. The competition for a centre-back is really high, and there are players who can play both full-back and centre-back.

“It’s the same for Katie. We know what she has done but I must make a lot of choices in that position."

Chelsea centre-back Millie Bright is included despite having to undergo a scan on a knee injury following her side’s Champions League fixture in Lyon last week but Fran Kirby remains absent from the squad due to a knee injury. The Chelsea star has not played since February and club manager Emma Hayes has not put a timescale on her return. Beth Mead is also still in rehabilitation following her ACL injury last November.

Wiegman said Mead’s chances of making the World Cup are considered to be “unlikely”, with the manager also admitting she was “concerned” by Kirby’s injury. “Hopefully she gets fit, gets on the pitch again and gets playing. You need to show form and fitness. We have less time now. It’s a little concern, but also we just need to see how she progresses."

With Wubben-Moy out of the squad, the 22-year-old Morgan comes back into the fold after missing out on England’s Arnold Clark Cup defence, while Parker returns having received her first international call-up in October. The West Ham defender was prevented from making her England debut due to injury.

European champions England face South American champions Brazil in the inaugural women’s Finalissima at Wembley on Thursday 6 April. The Lionesses will then take on World Cup co-hosts Australia at the Brentford Community Stadium on Tuesday 11 April.

“We are getting closer to the World Cup and I can’t think of two better games to assess our progress,” Wiegman said.  “After these games, there will be less than three months until we fly to the tournament and we must make every second on and off the pitch count.

“For us as a technical staff this will be the last chance to see the players within our England environment before we come together for the final preparation phase in June. And these two matches will be two real tests to see where we are at.

“This is a major new trophy and to compete for it at a sold-out Wembley is another special moment, both for us as a team but also for our fans. We will never take these occasions for granted and I want to see how we perform against two teams that will be hoping to challenge for the World Cup.”

England’s squad to face Brazil and Australia

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Sandy MacIver, Hannah Hampton

Defenders: Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Millie Bright, Leah Williamson, Jess Carter, Niamh Charles, Maya Le Tissier, Esme Morgan, Lucy Parker

Midfielders: Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Jordan Nobbs, Laura Coombs

Forwards: Chloe Kelly, Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Rachel Daly, Jess Park, Katie Robinson