Soccer

Sarina Wiegman says England ‘know what we have to do’ against Netherlands

Sarina Wiegman’s England are third in Nations League Group A1 (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Sarina Wiegman’s England are third in Nations League Group A1 (Bradley Collyer/PA) Sarina Wiegman’s England are third in Nations League Group A1 (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Sarina Wiegman is confident England are ready for the task ahead of them as they prepare for Friday’s must-win Nations League clash with the Netherlands at Wembley.

The Lionesses are third in Group A1 after four games, having been beaten 2-1 in September by the Dutch and 3-2 last month by Belgium, who they trail by three and one point respectively.

Failure to beat the Netherlands in their penultimate group fixture will end their hopes of the first-placed finish they require to have a chance of securing a Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying spot for Great Britain, and boss Wiegman told a press conference: “I think the team is ready.

“We’re really excited to play at Wembley tomorrow. I think the camp so far from Monday to now has gone really well.

“We’re very clear on how we want to play and what we want to do; I see good things on and off pitch, and that gives me confidence that we’re really ready for tomorrow, and of course we all know what we have to do.”

She added: “If you look at the games I don’t think we played really poor, just in moments we didn’t get it over the line and then we got some losses – which is not good, we want to do better.

“In football, just as in life, you have ups and downs, and what we want to do is get to the high again, and that is what we are going to try to do.”

With Millie Bright having withdrawn from the squad last week due to a knee injury, goalkeeper Mary Earps is set to captain the side.

England's Mary Earps during a training session at St. George’s Park (Bradley Collyer/PA)
England's Mary Earps during a training session at St. George’s Park (Bradley Collyer/PA) Mary Earps is set to captain England in Millie Bright’s absence (Bradley Collyer/PA)

There are a number of defenders in the squad with only a few caps between them, and when asked about a lack of experience at the back, Wiegman said: “With the World Cup, you played the team you think are going to win, and then you change to win the game.

“That has also been the case in the Nations League, so we didn’t have that many opportunities at international level to try out things. Of course we do that in training sessions, and we see the players in the Women’s Super League.

“I think if it’s needed, they’re ready, and they know what is being asked of them. I hope in the future of course they get the opportunity to play.

“Last year around this time we had friendlies, we played lots of players. We are not in that situation right now. “

An experienced player Wiegman has back in the fold is Beth Mead, the Golden Boot winner when England won the Euros in 2022 who, having missed their run to the World Cup final during the summer, has been recalled after recovering from an ACL injury.

Wiegman said it was as if Mead “hasn’t been away” without confirming whether she would start or not on Friday.

Beth Mead trains with England (Jacob King/PA)
Beth Mead trains with England (Jacob King/PA) Beth Mead is back in the England squad after recovering from an ACL injury (Jacob King/PA)

Mead has 50 caps – a landmark fellow forward Lauren Hemp will reach if she plays a part against the Dutch.

And the 23-year-old said: “It would be a surreal feeling. To do it at Wembley – there’s no better place. It would be an incredible feeling.

“Looking back, a lot of the big games I’ve had have come at Wembley. There’s a lot at stake (on Friday). We know as a group what’s expected of us. I feel like when we’re put under pressure, a lot of the time, we do the job.

“I’ve been to an Olympics before so I’ve experienced it once. I want to experience it again.”

After Friday’s contest against Wiegman’s former side, England conclude their group games by playing Scotland at Hampden Park next Tuesday.