Soccer

Sarina Wiegman says England have ‘moved on’ from Olympic disappointment

England will hope to defend their European Championship title in Switzerland next year.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman believes the Lionesses have “moved on” from the Olympic disappointment
Sarina Wiegman England head coach Sarina Wiegman believes the Lionesses have “moved on” from the Olympic disappointment (Mike Egerton/PA)

England head coach Sarina Wiegman believes her side have “moved on” from the heartbreak of missing out on Olympic qualification.

The Lionesses face Austria on Friday and Italy next Tuesday in a pair of friendlies which have replaced what they hoped would be Nations League semi-finals.

A 6-0 thrashing of Scotland looked to have secured top spot in Group A1 in December, only for the Netherlands to score twice in added time against Belgium to pip England on goal difference and end Team GB’s hopes of qualifying for Paris 2024.

“This is really the start of our Euros campaign and after the very disappointing result of not qualifying for the play-offs to qualify for the Olympics we moved on,” said Wiegman, whose side will bid to defend their European title in Switzerland next year.

“This is the start, with two friendlies which is really good for us because we can try out some things.

“We are also very close to the Under-23s [also training in Spain] so we can see them, we can connect with them and we get a lot of players that we can see where they are at this moment.

“This is a great start because in April the Nations League starts which are the qualifiers for the Euros.”

Leah Williamson was forced to pull out of the England squad for friendlies with Austria and Italy due to injury
Leah Williamson Leah Williamson was forced to pull out of the England squad for friendlies with Austria and Italy due to injury (John Walton/PA)

Euro 2022-winning captain Leah Williamson had been named in Wiegman’s squad for the first time since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament rupture, but the Arsenal defender withdrew with a hamstring injury on Sunday.

Asked if club coaches had requested a limit on player minutes amid a three-way Women’s Super League title race and a spate of high-profile injuries, Wiegman said: “Not this time.

“We are in contact with each other all the time, we update each other and of course we know how important the Women’s Super League is too but also the German League for Georgia [Stanway] and the Spanish league for the players who play in Spain at the moment.

“Of course, we want to take care of the players but we want to do lots of things. We play to win but we also have the opportunity now to try out things and also manage minutes. With a busy calendar I think that’s something to be aware of.

“The issue of injuries is a bigger picture and it’s about the load on the players. The calendar we talk about a lot, that we really have to address the calendar. I spoke up about that last week – we really ask FIFA and UEFA to change things.

“But we are doing a job as good as possible with all the expertise we have in our team and staff. We have a programme and we monitor the players really well.

“You’re in an environment where an injury can happen because it’s a physical sport, but if you can diminish the risk of injuries as much as possible, that’s also what we try to do.”