Sarina Wiegman hopes any fear England felt in the past about USA has diminished

Austria v England – FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Stadion Wiener Neustadt
(Image credit: John Walton)

Sarina Wiegman hopes any fear England felt in the past about playing the United States has diminished as they prepare to take on the world number ones as European champions.

The Lionesses face World Cup holders the USA on October 7 in a sold-out friendly at Wembley, returning to the scene where they beat Germany in July’s Euros final to secure the first major trophy in their history.

Boss Wiegman on Tuesday named a 24-player squad for that fixture and a friendly against the Czech Republic at the Amex Stadium four days later.

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And when asked about there having possibly been a fear factor in the past in terms of playing the Americans and whether that was less the case after the summer, she said: “If there was, I hope so.

“I think with the development of the team over the year and in the Euros, the experiences we got, I think we showed and really played with courage.

“That’s what we want to do all the time, that’s what we tell the players too, and that’s how we will approach the USA game too.

“Yes, we all know it’s a big opponent, but Germany and Spain (who England beat in the Euros quarter-finals) were really, really big opponents too.

England celebrate with the trophy after winning Euro 2022 (Adam Davy/PA).

England celebrate with the trophy after winning Euro 2022 (Adam Davy/PA)

“We just approach it the same way we do, playing to win, accepting mistakes, and hopefully we can bring our style of play on the pitch.”

The 2019 World Cup saw the United States beat England, then under Phil Neville, 2-1 in the last four and a Netherlands outfit managed by Wiegman 2-0 in the final.

Wiegman added: “I don’t think the Americans have fear, but they’ve also seen how good we have done in the Euros, and I think they will respect us. That’s what we’ll do with them too.

“We’re just really prepared. We hope we can dominate a little bit, but we know they’re really strong too.”

Wiegman, whose side are building towards next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, said the match at Wembley will be “such a big occasion” while stressing it will be “also another measurement for us (of) where we’re at”.

The squad features two players receiving first-time call-ups in midfielder Jess Park, who is on loan at Everton from Manchester City, and West Ham defender Lucy Parker.

The other uncapped player in the group is City defender Esme Morgan, who has been back in action this season after recovering from a broken leg.

And Wiegman said: “We have qualified for the World Cup now and we have 10 months to prepare. It’s good that some talented players are knocking on the door, and this is a real good opportunity to bring players in and see where they’re at.”

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Chloe Kelly and Fran Kirby return after missing the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Luxembourg earlier this month due to injury, while Nikita Parris, Beth England, Jordan Nobbs and Lotte Wubben-Moy – each of whom started on the bench for their clubs at the weekend – drop out.

Wiegman spoke about the factors of minutes played and competition for places as she said there had been “hard conversations, hard choices”, and emphasised her hope that omitted players could “give us headaches for the next time.”

Once again, there is no spot in the group for former England captain Steph Houghton, who after Achilles surgery in February made the provisional Euros squad but not the final 23.

The 34-year-old defender has played the full duration of both of Manchester City’s Women’s Super League matches so far this season.

Former England captain Steph Houghton has not been included in Wiegman's squad (Tim Goode/PA).

Former England captain Steph Houghton has not been included in Wiegman’s squad (Tim Goode/PA)

Wiegman said of Houghton: “I’ve had a conversation with her again, and I think she’s not quite ready.

“It’s 10 months still to go until the World Cup. The door is still open, and I will meet her again at the end of October and then we’ll see where we’re at, at that moment.”

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