Sarina Wiegman ha said she is “very worried” about the state of the international calendar, with England players back in camp in order to prepare for two Nations League games less than a month after their World Cup final loss to Spain.
“I was worried before the World Cup, and we knew it was a short turnaround. We really have to get connected with Fifa and Uefa to make that better,” said Wiegman. “The game is growing, which is really good, but it has to grow together and players need some rest too. Next week they come in and some players only had six days off, which after such a high-pressure competition is not good for them.” The Arsenal duo of Lotte Wubben-Moy and Alessia Russo have played in competitive Champions League qualifiers against Paris since returning from Australia.
“We have major tournaments in the summer all the time,” added Wiegman. “The urgency to solve it and make it better is really high. We first have to see how they are physically and get them fresh. That’s going to be a challenge.
“Of course, you have the team and want to perform at the highest level with the team so you want players to be fresh. It’s balancing whether this player is fresh enough or fit enough.”
Keira Walsh is not in Wiegman’s latest squad due to a calf injury Wiegman has described as “not a major thing”. Beth England is also out having undergone surgery for an ongoing hip problem following England’s World Cup campaign.
Influential midfielder Walsh missed England’s final group game at the World Cup against China after suffering a knee injury against Denmark but was fit to play in all knockout games after the injury was revealed to not be as bad as it initially looked.
Speaking about Walsh’s absence, Wiegman said: “She has a small calf injury and it’s just too short to come into camp. It’s not a major thing but she’s not ready to play. It has nothing to do with that [World Cup injury].”
The head coach added that she had also considered selecting Beth Mead and Fran Kirby following their respective layoffs with injury. “Beth was in the Arsenal squad, but she still has a while. Fran is really close, she’s been playing some friendlies,” said Wiegman. “I am looking forward to see them play but that will be after this international break.” Lucy Staniforth and Maya Le Tissier, who travelled to Australia with England before leaving camp after the first game, have been called up, as has Manchester City’s Jess Park.
England open the Nations League campaign against Scotland at the Stadium of Light next Friday before travelling to Utrecht the following Tuesday to play the Netherlands. Belgium completes the four-team group, the winners of which will qualify for semi-finals in February. England must finish in the top two to secure a place for Team GB at the Paris Olympics next summer; should Olympic hosts France finish in the top two, then England can afford to finish third.
Speaking in light of Luis Rubiales’ resignation as president of Spain’s football federation, Wiegman echoed the message she delivered when being named as Uefa’s coach of the year earlier this month. “What I want to talk about now is that we should celebrate football and the Spanish players who won the World Cup – we haven’t been talking about that at all,” she said. “We have seen what is going on in the news and we should leave the right people to deal with that. Players need to be listened to and we need to move forward. The women’s game has improved but there’s still a long way to go. We need to make the world better for players.”
On the dispute between her own players and the Football Association over World Cup bonuses, Wiegman said she was “positive” there will be a good outcome. “The players and the FA didn’t agree before the tournament, they agreed to disagree,” she added. “I am very hopeful, I am very positive. The environment has been very good, it just needs more time to get some solutions, the FA and the players are in good communication.”