Sarina Wiegman confident England will be ready for Euro 2022 title challenge

England Women Training Session – St George’s Park – Tuesday November 23rd
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Sarina Wiegman is confident England will be ready to fight for Women’s Euro 2022 glory this summer as they contemplate a stern test of their credentials.

The hosts will step up their preparations over the next week in the new Arnold Clark Cup tournament, which will see them face fellow FIFA-ranked top-10 sides Canada, Spain and Germany starting with the Canadians at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Thursday evening.

The three fixtures – they play Spain at Carrow Road on Sunday and the Germans at Molineux three days later – will provide head coach Wiegman with an insight into where the team currently is ahead of what she expects to be a highly competitive fight for the title when Europe’s best convene in July.

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She said: “When you go to a tournament, you want to win the tournament, just like all other teams, and there are lots of teams that would be able to do that or should be able to win the Euros because the game has developed so much.

“Now more and more countries are (among) the favourites in this tournament. It’s going to be really exciting.

“I think the games are going to be again on a higher level than the tournament four years ago or the World Cup that the European teams played in too, so that’s going to be really exciting.

“We have a plan. We now have this tournament, which we really need to know where we are at this point and what we need to do to become better as an individual and as a team, and then hopefully we’ll, I’m convinced, we’ll be ready on July 6 and we should be playing the best we can.”

Leah Williamson, captain in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, was a member of the squad which won the 2019 She Believes Cup, but has seen England bow out at the semi-final stage in their last three major tournaments.

She believes they have “under-achieved” as a result, but is hopeful there is better to come.

Asked what had changed since Wiegman took over in September last year, Williamson said: “I think we’ve realised ultimately we’ve potentially under-achieved the last few tournaments and everybody wants to turn that round, so it’s more of a collective push to reach the next standard, which is bringing out the best in everybody, I think.

“This is some of the most competitive training I’ve been involved in for a long time here and the fight for positions, the fight to reach your potential, it’s all tying in nicely.

Chelsea v Arsenal – Barclays FA Women’s Super League – Kingsmeadow

Chelsea’s Sam Kerr speaks to the officials after a controversial end to Friday night’s 0-0 WSL draw with Arsenal (John Walton/PA)

“This week, we get an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, which is a gift, really, just to focus on the summer.”

Wiegman has to date presided over six World Cup qualifiers which have yielded a remarkable 53 goals for – they beat Latvia 20-0 at Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium in November – and none against.

Life will be significantly more challenging against Canada, who are ranked sixth by FIFA, two places above England, and managed by Bev Priestman, who served as Phil Neville’s number two as he guided the Lionesses to the last four at the 2019 World Cup finals.

That will not faze Arsenal defender Williamson, who met up with the squad in the aftermath of the Gunners’ Friday night’s 0-0 WSL draw with Chelsea in which she survived late penalty claims and revealed there had been a “catch-up” between players from the respective clubs within the camp.

Asked if “catch-up” was a diplomatic description, she replied with a smile: “A little bit.”

Williamson’s club colleague Lotte Wubben-Moy will not be joining up with the England squad for the tournament, with the defender to continue to work on rehabilitation with Arsenal. There are no plans to call up a replacement.

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