Soccer

Sarina Wiegman happy to have Leah Williamson back in England fold

The 26-year-old suffered an ACL injury last April.

Leah Williamson is back in the England squad
Leah Williamson Leah Williamson is back in the England squad (John Walton/PA)

England boss Sarina Wiegman is happy to have Leah Williamson back in her squad.

Williamson has been named in a 23-player group for friendlies against Austria and Italy in Spain later this month.

It marks a first return to the Lionnesses’ camp for the 26-year-old since she suffered an ACL injury last April, which ruled her out of last summer’s World Cup.

Wiegman said: “It is really nice, especially for her, she is back, she is gaining minutes at Arsenal, doing well, she is happy at Arsenal and they are of course happy too.

“It is really nice to have her back because she is a very good player, even though she has been out for months, now she has come back her decision-making is still really good.

“She is still building. The team picked up very well, players stepped up but it is still really nice to have her back.”

Williamson captained her country to Euro 2022 success, but Wiegman did not say whether she will still have the armband.

“I have to talk to the players first about that,” she said.

Williamson captained England to Euro 2022 glory
Williamson captained England to Euro 2022 glory Williamson captained England to Euro 2022 glory

“We come in and we have to start again, we will revisit that and have a conversation with the players first.”

There was no room in the squad for in-form Manchester United forward Nikita Parris, who has been overlooked despite scoring 15 goals in the last 16 matches for her club.

Wiegman spoke to the 29-year-old to explain her decision but says she has tough choices to make.

“The competition up front is really high, in the autumn she didn’t play much,” Wiegman said. “Since the new year she has played in the nine position and has done really well, of course we have noticed that too.

“We have had a little chat and I hope she shows consistency because we are talking about her again but I made some other choices now for this camp.

Parris has been overlooked, despite her impressive form for Man Utd
Parris has been overlooked, despite her impressive form for Man Utd Parris has been overlooked, despite her impressive form for Man Utd (Nick Potts/PA)

“With the players we have, they have done well so it was a hard decision.

“I had conversations with her in the autumn, that was a different situation. I had a short conversation with her yesterday and I explained a little bit and that is now just the way it is.

“We have many players up front, it is so competitive that I have to make choices and some players who are doing really well will be kept out. She is available and she knows we are watching her closely.”

The Lionesses take on Austria on February 23 and Italy four days later.