England boss Sarina Wiegman declined to reveal who would captain the side for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Latvia as she named her squad on Tuesday.
England’s first two matches under Wiegman, the thrashings of North Macedonia (8-0) and Luxembourg (10-0) last month, saw them skippered by Leah Williamson in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, who remains sidelined.
Williamson is part of a 24-player group named ahead of the clashes with Northern Ireland at Wembley on October 23 – the Lionesses’ first competitive match at the stadium – and Latvia in Riga three days later.
Asked at a press conference who would captain the team for this month’s fixtures, Wiegman said: “We’ll discuss it when the team comes together. They don’t know yet, so please have a little more patience before we can speak about that.”
The squad features recalls for Manchester United forward Alessia Russo, whose sole England appearance to date came in March 2020, and Aston Villa goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, one of two uncapped players in the group alongside United captain Katie Zelem.
Manchester City’s Keira Walsh is also back, fit again after missing last month’s games with a calf issue, but there is no place in the 24 for Williamson’s fellow Arsenal player Jordan Nobbs, despite her recovery from an ankle problem.
Nobbs, who has 66 caps, has made her return to action with substitute appearances in Arsenal’s last two matches.
Wiegman said of the 28-year-old: “Of course we follow her. She was injured, she’s fit now but she hasn’t played that many minutes. We keep a very close eye on her and of course I know her history. She’s pretty close, she just needs to get more minutes.”
Houghton is among a group of City players currently unavailable due to injury, which also includes the likes of Lucy Bronze and Ellie Roebuck.
Tuesday’s press conference also saw Wiegman asked about the sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League.
The Athletic published a report on September 30 containing allegations about Englishman Paul Riley’s conduct made by players he had coached in the US since 2010, including alleged sexual coercion.
Riley, who denies the accusations, was sacked by North Carolina Courage as head coach in light of the report, the NWSL’s commissioner Linda Baird resigned, and the league, US Soccer and FIFA launched investigations. There were subsequently acts from NWSL and Women’s Super League teams at matches to show solidarity with the players who had made the allegations.
Wiegman said: “Of course it is very disappointing to hear such things. I think it’s really strong that women step up and tell what happened, and now there are investigations which I think is very good, to investigate and know what really happened.
“I hope we can just prevent these things and that we can have a safe environment for everyone, that is safe and a fun place to be on the pitch and off the pitch.”
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