Sarina Wiegman faces selection headache from promising young Lionesses as England prepare for their first game defending their Euros title by welcoming Sweden to Wembley in the first qualifier for Euro 2025

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By Tara Anson-walsh

Published: 12:30 EDT, 4 April 2024 | Updated: 13:01 EDT, 4 April 2024

As England caput to Wembley connected Friday for nan first crippled successful their Euros title defence, location is increasing a action headache for Sarina Wiegman pinch respective younger Lionesses banging connected nan manager’s door.

England will play Sweden successful nan first crippled of their Euro 2025 group qualifiers connected Friday earlier heading to Dublin connected Tuesday to return connected nan Republic of Ireland. They besides play France astatine nan extremity of May earlier nan reverse fixtures return spot successful June and July pinch nan purpose of finishing successful a apical 2 spot and automatically qualify, thereby avoiding nan play-offs and an other 4 games.

With France and Sweden classed 3rd and sixth successful nan world by FIFA respectively (and Ireland astatine 26), nan building ‘group of death’ is surely an apt 1 to picture this difficult tie for nan reigning champions.

‘There’s nary easy way now to a tourney and nan group's astir apt nan toughest 1 retired of them all,’ said 30-year-old Alex Greenwood, who was arguably England’s champion subordinate astatine nan World Cup. ‘But we judge successful ourselves and we're bully capable to get nan occupation done’.

‘Ultimately we want nan champion title and to play nan champion teams to hole america for what lies ahead. I deliberation our group is decidedly going to springiness america that.’

Sarina Wiegman faces a action headache arsenic young Lionesses vie for England places

Alex Greenwood admits England look 1 of nan toughest groups successful qualifying for nan Euros

Since reaching nan World Cup last past August, nan Lionesses person struggled for consistency, losing to some Belgium and Netherlands successful nan second stages of past year, ending their hopes of playing astatine nan Olympics this summer.

One affirmative that has emerged from England’s dashed Olympics hopes was nan chance for Wiegman to spot immoderate much of nan younger faces successful her squad during nan lower-stakes games. These see Tottenham’s Grace Clinton (on indebtedness from Manchester United) and Greenwood’s City teammate, Jess Park, who person some been exceptional successful nan WSL this season.

Park made her elder England debut successful 2022 and has appeared successful six games since, often coming connected arsenic a substitute. Clinton is newer to nan squad, having received her first call-up past October and earning her first 2 caps successful February this year, scoring nan opener connected her debut conscionable 19 minutes in. And Greenwood is not acrophobic of heaping nan praise connected these flourishing youngsters.

‘I'm fortunate I get to activity pinch Jess each time and measurement earlier this action I knew she had truthful overmuch potential,’ she says of nan City midfielder, whose caller shape was typified by a brace successful nan Manchester derby 2 weeks ago. ‘It was conscionable pinch Jess astir being really diligent and trusting what she was going to execute alternatively than what she was doing successful that moment.’

And Greenwood has enjoyed having somewhat of a guiding power complete nan 22-year-old midfielder. ‘As soon arsenic I signed for City, I conscionable clicked pinch Jess. There was conscionable thing astir her that I loved. I loved nan measurement she was truthful breathtaking connected nan ball. She had loads of imaginable but loads of things that she needed to amended disconnected nan transportation … I thought if I tin thief her now, past nan travel is simply a small spot easier.’

Similarly, 21-year-old Clinton has besides had an eye-catching season, enjoying nan newfound work awarded to her nether nan attack-minded Tottenham coach, Robert Vilahamn.

‘We're very overmuch alert of what Grace tin do and what she's done astatine Tottenham each season. She's been awesome and I deliberation she's astir apt been their champion subordinate each season,’ says Greenwood.

Manchester City's Jess Park has been exceptional successful nan WSL, and could situation for a spot

Grace Clinton (L) has caught nan oculus this word while connected indebtedness astatine an attack-minded Spurs team

‘She mightiness travel crossed arsenic rather shy, but successful position of wrong nan group, she's very assured successful herself and she'll inquire questions that possibly you wouldn't expect a 20-year-old to ask.

‘I retrieve our first camp, we were connected a locomotion and talking earlier nan crippled and I said “Grace, you haven't unopen up this full walk. Every infinitesimal you’re ‘so really do you do this, what do you eat then’.” But it's nice, it's rather humbling.’

The title for some Park and Clinton successful nan midfield area of nan transportation is high, pinch some players occupying cardinal positions for their clubs wherever nan likes of Georgia Stanway, Fran Kirby and Ella Toone person traditionally taken privilege nether Wiegman.

But pinch expanding crippled clip and nan correct advice, which players for illustration Greenwood are intelligibly providing successful abundance, it won’t beryllium agelong until Wiegman finds these 2 intolerable to ignore.

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