England journey to Australia in 4 days’ time for the Girls’s World Cup, however a disappointing goalless draw with Portugal leaves lots for supervisor Sarina Wiegman to ponder.
Staff choice, a most popular system and whether or not injured gamers will return to health in time for the competitors, are among the many key questions because the Lionesses’ preparation ramps up.
Wiegman’s beginning XI for England’s final send-off game on home soil raised eyebrows when she chosen Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly forward of normal quantity 9 Alessia Russo.
There was additionally a beginning place for Chelsea’s proficient winger Lauren James, whereas in-form Manchester Metropolis ahead Chloe Kelly sat on the bench.
There have been additionally tweaks in defence as Wiegman assessed her choices with out her injured captain Millie Vibrant. Centre-back Alex Greenwood performed left-back for 45 minutes, whereas Esme Morgan and Jess Carter fashioned an unfamiliar partnership.
However a flat efficiency missing fluidity and objectives, urged there are nonetheless loads of choices Wiegman must make earlier than England’s World Cup opener towards Haita on 22 July.
Requested whether or not she felt there have been extra questions than solutions, Wiegman mentioned: “Oh, extra solutions. And solutions already give one other query after all as a result of we all the time wish to enhance.”
But regardless of Wiegman’s insistence, there stays key locations nonetheless up for grabs and the Dutchwoman seems to be no nearer to realizing her beginning XI.
Have England discovered their quantity 9 but?
One of many largest speaking factors heading into the event is who shall be England’s quantity 9.
Throughout their profitable Euro 2022 marketing campaign, Ellen White – now retired – began each sport, with Russo offering an influence off the bench as considered one of a number of ‘super-subs.’
Russo was the plain successor as England’s main centre-forward, however she has lacked consistency since final summer time and completed under Golden Boot winner Daly and Tottenham striker Bethany England within the Girls’s Tremendous League scoring charts this season.
It means the door is large open for a beginning spot, with Daly given her alternative towards Portugal.
The Aston Villa striker did not take it, squandering a number of probabilities within the first half, earlier than Russo made an influence within the second half following her introduction.
However with each strikers failing to search out the online towards a Portugal facet ranked 17 locations decrease and who’ve certified for his or her first World Cup, is Wiegman any nearer to realizing her most popular quantity 9?
“We’ve not made choices but. It is shut. There’s a actual competitors happening and we have now Rachel Daly, we have now Alessia Russo and we have now Beth England,” mentioned Wiegman.
“I am not nearer [to knowing], no. I feel in some positions it is actually tight. This isn’t the time to make remaining choices as we have now some weeks to go.”
Is James higher suited as a quantity 10?
One other determination dealing with Wiegman is easy methods to get the perfect out of James, who’s broadly thought-about one of the vital proficient gamers of her technology, albeit a little bit unorthodox.
There’s stiff competitors in large ahead positions with Manchester Metropolis duo Kelly and Lauren Hemp proving their value on loads of events beforehand – most notably when Kelly got here off the bench to attain the profitable objective within the Euro 2022 remaining.
James was harmful towards Portugal, linking up properly with Lucy Bronze within the first half, although failing to supply the ultimate ball when it mattered.
Nonetheless, a change at half-time from Wiegman, dropping James right into a deeper quantity 10 place, appeared to get the perfect out of her as she usually mixed with Russo and winger Kelly.
The perfect probability of the match got here by way of James when she slid it by to Russo to around the keeper – the striker denied solely by the brilliance of a goalline block by Ana Borges.
So what system will Wiegman use on the World Cup and is James’ position maybe more practical within the center than out large?
“You may inform that she will be able to play on the facet, however she will be able to additionally play on the centre. She’s tight on the ball, she’s very highly effective, and has imaginative and prescient,” mentioned Wiegman.
“I feel we might see somebody who really did actually good issues, and I additionally assume you would see in some moments that she might make some choices a little bit faster. So we’ll overview that with the staff later.”
Are England prepared for the World Cup?
With a number of gamers already lacking by damage – captain Leah Williamson, ahead Beth Mead and midfielder Fran Kirby – the remaining query marks round key centre-back Vibrant’s health is a priority.
It solely provides to Wiegman’s conundrums, which didn’t really feel as complicated heading into Euro 2022.
England’s kind has additionally dipped barely. Their 30-game unbeaten run ended with defeat by Australia previous to their draw with the Portuguese at Stadium MK.
There are appropriate explanations for this together with damage and rustiness following a month with no aggressive match for the reason that finish of the WSL season.
However have been England higher ready final summer time than they’re now?
“I do not relate that to one another. I feel the staff has modified so there’s one other staff dynamic now as a result of we have now different folks in and totally different qualities. It is a new state of affairs,” added Wiegman.
“We proceed to develop our fashion of play, with the gamers we have now, and that is how we method it. I feel we’re in an excellent place.
“This sport was very useful, though we’re dissatisfied we did not rating a objective. You may inform that we actually know what we wish to do and that is actually what we’re engaged on.”