‘Very challenging’: Wiegman laments schedule for England’s Euro qualifiers | OneFootball

‘Very challenging’: Wiegman laments schedule for England’s Euro qualifiers | OneFootball

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The Guardian

·14 May 2024

‘Very challenging’: Wiegman laments schedule for England’s Euro qualifiers

Article image:‘Very challenging’: Wiegman laments schedule for England’s Euro qualifiers

Sarina Wiegman said navigating preparations for England’s Euro 2025 qualifiers in June and July had been “very challenging”, with the ­competitive fixtures scheduled for the summer break between seasons.

The manager has named a 24-player squad, including ­Chelsea’s Millie Bright and Aggie ­Beever-Jones, for back-to-back games against France and then the July games against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden. She also put four ­players on standby, including Kayla ­Rendell, a Championship goalkeeper with Southampton.

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The Women’s Super League ­season ends on Saturday and only two squad members have competitive club action after that: Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh, who are due to be involved in the Champions League final a week later.

“We’ve known this calendar for a while now, we know it’s very ­challenging,” Wiegman said. “Things are new. We haven’t had this period where we don’t have a tournament but we do have a window in July … It’s different; we find a way.”

The Lionesses host France in ­Newcastle on Friday 31 May, before the return in Saint-Étienne four days later. The squad will then have time off before training camps on 19-21 June and 24-28 June. Before the final Euro qualifying group ­fixtures – against Ireland in Norwich on Friday 12 July and Sweden in Gothenburg on Tuesday 16 July – the team will travel to the Netherlands for a training camp on 1-5 July, when they will play a behind‑closed‑doors training game against the country’s national team.

“We had many conversations with clubs, good conversations,” Wiegman said. “We all know players need rest, but we also know we need to train to compete in July. So, we come to this plan. Players have some programmes with clubs, some are still playing, like Barcelona. Players will come in stages to our training camps.”

On whether they will be allowed to go on holiday abroad in the break before going into camp on 19 June, Wiegman said she would not be ­putting restrictions on what the ­players do with their time off. “They’re ­professional players, they know what’s right for them,” she said.

“I think it’s very good to have a proper rest. We can’t give any longer because we have to ­compete in July. Yes, they can go away. My ­preference would be to stay in Europe and not go to the other side of the world because that has an impact. These days the world seems so small, everyone’s going ­everywhere. I want them to come in fit and fresh and be ready to start training and ­compete. I think they’ll make the right decisions.”

Wiegman named a squad to cover both international windows to ­provide the players with “clarity” about their summer.

In addition to Rendell the players on standby are Liverpool’s Missy Bo Kearns, Tottenham’s Jessica Naz and Manchester United’s Maya Le Tissier.

Bright is back for the first time this year, having ­featured for Chelsea in recent weeks on her return from injury. “It’s a great boost,” said Wiegman of the defender’s return. “This is what she’s been ­working for all the time, to compete with Chelsea, and then coming back into camp … I’m just really happy now this is the moment she can come in.”

Beever-Jones has scored 11 league goals for Chelsea this season, second only to Lauren James, and is fourth on the list of WSL top scorers.

“Aggie has developed so well,” said Wiegman. “She’s an open person, she really wants to develop every day on the pitch … She can play on the side, she can play in the centre, I’m looking forward to it.”

Header image: [Photograph: Adam Davy/PA]

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