England's Young Lionesses Give Wiegman Food For Thought Ahead Of Euro 2022

Manchester United duo Ella Toone and Alessia Russo were given starts against Canada
11:15, 18 Feb 2022

Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses were held to a 1-1 draw with Olympic champions Canada at the Riverside Stadium on Teeside as they got their Arnold Clark Cup campaign underway. Although not the win the hosts had hoped for, it did give Wiegman food for thought ahead of the European Championships this summer. 

Overall, it was an impressive display from England as Wiegman made several changes to her usual lineup which saw some of the Lionesses future stars given a chance to impress in what is likely going to be a trial ahead of this summer’s Euro 2022, also hosted on these shores. It was good of the Dutch coach to give a handful of the young members of the squad a chance to prove themselves in a tournament setting and it will give them richer experience, while helping Wiegman assess how she will get the very best of the group at the Euros.

Arsenal star Leah Williamson was not only handed a start but given the captaincy as well in the midfield, and while she usually plays in defence for the Gunners, she is a gifted footballer and her technical ability allows her to play in a variety of positions. Heading into a major tournament, you cannot ask for anything better than that level of versatility from a squad player. Manchester United’s in-form forward Alessia Russo also received the nod to start the game along with her fellow United teammate Ella Toone, who recently won the WSL’s Player of the Month award.

The 11 players who started the game gave a good impression and were able to match one of the best teams in the world. England’s experienced defender Millie Bright fired the hosts in front with a delightful volley, but Canada were able to match that fine strike with a goal of beauty themselves. Janine Beckie’s amazing strike was an exquisite curling effort into the top-left corner which left Mary Earps stranded. 

Wiegman and her players will take a lot of positives out of the game where, with several changes, they were still able to provide a tough test for the Olympic champions. Those who were handed a starting place will be hoping that they impressed enough to maintain their places against Spain on Sunday.

"Collectively, as a group, it's a new slate and a fresh journey," said goalscorer Bright.

"Everyone is bringing their club form into camp and playing their best. When players are comfortable and happy, that's when you see their good performances."

This happy camp has meant England’s start to life under Wiegman has been extraordinary as they remain unbeaten. However, it is not surprising considering the amazing things she achieved with the Netherlands in her last role, and everyone remembers how they stole the show on home soil for Euro 2017. With an already glowing start to life across from the continent, Lionesses supporters will be growing in confidence that she can lead England to European glory here in the summer. 

Considering how well the players who were thrown into the starting lineup performed against tough opposition, it has just further highlighted the strength in depth the Lionesses have in their ranks and that is something that will give Wiegman a headache for when she has to make the difficult decision of naming her squad for the Euros. For now at least, she will be wanting her players to build-up their confidence and she knows the major boost that winning the Arnold Clark Cup would have on her players ahead of the major tournament in July.

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