Predicting The Lionesses Line-Up For The World Cup Amid Injuries To Key Players

Beth Mead, Fran Kirby and Leah Williamson have all been ruled out
14:00, 03 May 2023

Sarina Wiegman must be tearing her hair out. With every passing week, another one of her Euro 2022 winners is ruled out of this summer’s World Cup. This time it is Fran Kirby’s turn as the Chelsea midfielder confirmed she would need surgery on the knee injury that has kept her out since early February. 

Kirby was a doubt for last summer’s tournament having suffered from exhaustion in the build-up, but she recovered to play a key role in the Lionesses success. She scored twice and started in the final as England’s women won their first major trophy. But it looks like a tough ask to repeat that feat this summer, after so much hope and promise in the build-up.

Kirby joins captain Leah Williamson and Euros top scorer Beth Mead on the sidelines, as Wiegman tries to plot a way forward without three of her key players. So what will England’s starting XI look like when they take on Haiti in their opening game on July 22? We’ve taken a stab at predicting how Wiegman will plug those gaps. 


GK - Mary Earps

Easy one to start with. The Manchester United goalkeeper is England’s undisputed number one and was brilliant in the Euro 2022 success. If she performs well, the Lionesses have a chance. 

RB - Lucy Bronze 

Bronze has a Champions League final to look forward to with Barcelona and has done well since her move to Spain this summer. Still a key physical asset at both ends of the pitch for England, she’ll be an important performer in Australia and New Zealand. 

CB - Millie Bright

She has been out of action for the last month and withdrew from England’s latest World Cup squad but Wiegman will be desperate for the Chelsea defender to return in time. She should be okay, but if she joins captain Leah Williamson on the sidelines, the Lionesses will have a gaping hole in the centre of their defence. 

CB - Alex Greenwood

The dilemma on who will partner Bright is a tricky one. Chelsea teammate Jess Carter is a contender but hasn’t nailed down a starting spot for the Blues, while Maya Le Tissier has emerged at Manchester United this season as a solid option. Lotte Wubben-Moy is in contention and Esme Morgan is doing well at Manchester City but was left exposed against Australia in only her third cap, so we think Alex Greenwood may get the nod. 

LB - Jess Carter

The back four is so difficult to predict. Carter has been used as a left-back and centre-back this season, while in recent months she has featured more on the left. However, England’s options at left-back are limited, with Greenwood the only other contender for this spot now Rachel Daly has established herself as a forward.

CM - Georgia Stanway

Things become more straightforward in midfield, especially now Kirby is out. Stanway is a guaranteed starter and has become a key player for club and country. Arsenal dumped her Bayern Munich team out of the Champions League but she will star for England again this summer.

CM - Kiera Walsh

Into the Champions League final alongside Barca teammate Lucy Bronze, Walsh will have another big say on the success of the England side this summer. 

CAM - Ella Toone

Manchester United’s attacking midfielder perhaps hasn’t hit the goalscoring heights that she would have wanted to this term, but she has played a big part in Marc Skinner’s title challenge. She’ll be starting for England in July.

RW - Lauren Hemp

With Beth Mead out, we could see an all-Manchester front line for England this summer. City’s 22-year-old winger has impressed consistently over the last 18 months and should have done enough to lock down a starting spot, amid tough competition. 

ST - Alessia Russo

Rachel Daly is in stunning form for Aston Villa, with 17 league goals to her name this term, but Russo boasts more physicality and was always set to be Ellen White’s replacement. She was so impressive for England last summer and should be given the nod at another major tournament. 

LW - Chloe Kelly

The star who scored the goal that won England Euro 2022 has done well again for Man City and even scored the winning penalty for her country in the Finalissima success. We wonder if she fancies another major title winning goal this summer?

England are 10/3 to win the Women's World Cup*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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