England Women head coach Sarina Wiegman has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be on the bench for the Lionesses’ final Euro 2022 group stage game against Northern Ireland at St Mary’s on Friday night.
Wiegman will undertake a period of recovery at the squad’s base camp.
Assistant coach Arjan Veurink will lead the team for tonight’s fixture against Northern Ireland. Wiegman will remain in remote contact with the players and technical staff and will be monitored regularly with a view to returning to all elements of her role as soon as possible.
A record-breaking 8-0 victory over Norway on Monday confirmed England’s place in the knockout stages and Wiegman will be keen to be back on the touchline.
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Wiegman said rotation is unlikely as England face British rivals Northern Ireland in their final Group A match at Euro 2022, while Kenny Shiels wants his side to leave the tournament on a ‘feel-good note’.
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Euro debutants Northern Ireland, who cannot qualify for the quarter-finals, have lost all eight of their previous meetings with the Lionesses, being outscored 44-2 in the process.
England well-versed without Wiegman
England head coach Sarina Wiegman says she is not intending to make many changes to the squad for Friday’s game against Northern Ireland.
Sky Sports News reporter Anton Toloui:
“It’s far from ideal – and don’t forget England have a huge quarter-final against the runners-up of Group B on Wednesday – just five days away. Wiegman will be desperate to be fully involved in that game.
“Sarina took the team meeting this morning remotely and she is already in isolation – so she has been in constant communication. She will also be in close contact with the technical team on the bench this evening and she is feeling OK. But she will be forced to miss the game due to that positive test.
“Wiegman missed one of the warm-up games before the tournament due to a family bereavement so England already have a system in place and know how to operate remotely without Wiegman on the sidelines.”
Wiegman: Rotation unlikely
Manchester City forward Chloe Kelly said England manager Sarina Wiegman has given the England squad the licence to play with freedom.
There has been discussion ahead of Friday’s game at St Mary’s over whether Wiegman will take the chance to play some of the other players in her squad, with England’s path to the knockout rounds already secured.
When asked about the possibility at her press conference, she said: “I believe in rhythm – when you have nine days in between the Norway game and the quarter-finals, it’s too long.
“You need more rhythm. I don’t expect lots of rotation. During the game probably, but not before the start.
England goalkeeper Mary Earps says she is focused and ready to perform for the team when she is needed
“I understand [that players want to play]. We have 23 players and only 11 can start. We’ll do what we believe in, in terms of giving us the best chance to win the next game.
“Of course, some players will be disappointed. But we keep communicating, we keep being clear on what we’re doing and why we do it. Sometimes you can be disappointed, that’s understandable. If you wouldn’t be eager to play, then the player wouldn’t be in the squad.
“It [players getting injured] is always the case, always things can happen at the level we play. We just want to play a good game.
England Women manager Sarina Wiegman says she was happy to see her side maintain their strong performance into the second half of the win against Norway when they were already 6-0 in the lead.
“If we are focused, concentrated, we will probably be a lot in possession and keep the ball going and be composed. That’s what we have to do and play the game.
“At this level, you always look for the edge and things can happen. We don’t hope that, but the priority is to keep rhythm, stay connected, communicate on and off the pitch, play a good game and then get ready for the next one.”
It will be the third time Wiegman has faced Northern Ireland in her short time with England, but she has been impressed by how they have acquitted themselves at Euro 2022.
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She added: “We’ve played them twice already last season. I think for them, it’s really good that they have had their first tournament. For the development of players, you need tournaments to become better and know what to expect next time.
“We can see they’re trying to develop their style of play and I’m absolutely sure they will try and have a competitive game tomorrow and make best out of it. That’s what we want to do too.
“I don’t know how many Northern Ireland people will be here. It will be full and what we want to do is play a good game, win, keep a clean sheet and that we give the people that are here a very nice evening.”
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