England and Arsenal’s Beth Mead set for long absence due to knee injury | England women’s football team

The England forward Beth Mead has suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and “is set for an extended period on the sidelines”, Arsenal have announced. The 27-year-old sustained the injury in Saturday’s 3-2 Women’s Super League loss to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

A statement from Arsenal on Tuesday said: “We can confirm that Beth Mead suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our match against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Unfortunately, this means that Beth is set for an extended period on the sidelines. She will see a surgeon in the coming days, after which further details on timescales will be established.

“Everyone at the club will now be supporting Beth and working hard to get her back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Mead has scored three goals in the WSL and two in the Champions League for the Gunners this season, which follows her starring role in England’s triumph at the Euros during the summer. She was named player of the tournament and claimed the Golden Boot with six goals, and last month was the Ballon d’Or runner-up behind Spain’s Alexia Putellas.

England will be back in major tournament action next summer at the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand, from 20 July.

England end 2022 unbeaten but Norway battle back for draw despite red card | Friendlies

The Lionesses signed off on a successful year, ending 2022 unbeaten with a 1-1 draw with Norway in Pinatar. Rachel Daly’s first-half goal was cancelled out by Frida Maanum late on as the final international break came to a close.

It had been 127 days since these two sides last met on that infamous summer’s evening in Brighton. That day, Sarina Wiegman’s side subjected Norway to an 8-0 drubbing on their way to winning the European Championship.

The differences to that night were many. A breezy Pinatar Stadium in southern Spain was the setting, and while almost at capacity, it was a stark contrast to recent crowds in England. Wiegman’s side were much changed both due to injury and her taking the opportunity to bed in new faces. Fresh off an impressive showing against Japan last week, their younger players were given their chance once again. Five changes saw Maya Le Tissier handed her senior debut and Lauren James starting in midfield, while Rachel Daly was given a rare opportunity as central striker role.

Norway had won three of their last five under new manager, Hege Riise, since the summer, most recently losing narrowly to France on Friday evening. Riise made three changes from that match with Aurora Mikalsen given a start in goal while Emilie Haavi and Lisa Naalsund provided fresh legs.

It was the Norwegians who started the brighter, finding their feet quickly and pushing forward with energy. Haavi made an impression straightaway, finding space time and again down the left side. She forced a smart save from Ellie Roebuck in the opening minutes before setting up Naalsund who fired over in space.

England, on the other hand, were dominating possession but struggling to make an impact in the final third. A combination of the wet surface and new faces were the cause with the Lionesses needing to find their feet. They truly settled after one of James’ trademark runs saw their first shot on target. The Chelsea midfielder makes football look easy and she glided past her marker with effortless skill before firing a shot into the gloves of Mikalsen.

England looked in control from this point and opened the scoring through the in-form Rachel Daly with half an hour on the clock. She rose high to send home another pinpoint Kelly delivery, her ninth goal of an extraordinary season for club and country. She could have had two more just before the break but the back of the net just eluded her in the latter stages of the first half.

Wiegman is not known for making early substitutions but three came at the break, perhaps with a nod to the busy domestic schedule in the weeks ahead. Georgia Stanway took the captain’s armband as she entered the fray alongside Katie Zelem and Esme Morgan.

Changes can cause disruption and Norway saw it as an opportunity to put a new-look Lionesses defensive line under pressure. Amalie Eikeland had Roebuck stretching to tip over a curling effort before the England keeper was alert to the run of Sophie Haug as she broke through.

This England side, however, just love to play football and can turn on the flair in an instant. Kelly’s deliveries from the left have been a stand-out this international break and she produced two more that were just crying out for a crimson shirt to get on the end of it. They were helped also by the departure of Anja Sønstevold in the 73rd minute, given her marching orders by Zuzana Valentova for two yellow-card challenges on Nikita Parris.

Despite their shortage in numbers, however, Norway were in no mood to throw in the towel and provided a shock late on. Frida Maanum, the impressive Arsenal midfielder, fired into an empty net within minutes of coming on to the field after Roebuck miscued her attempted clearance.

England turned on the pressure once more with Katie Robinson providing fresh legs in attack as she became another to earn her first senior cap. Despite their dominance on the ball, however, they could not fashion a clear-cut opportunity and had to settle for a draw to round out their year.

Jess Park scores on England debut to cap impressive friendly win over Japan | Friendlies

England extended their unbeaten run to 25 games under Sarina Wiegman with an emphatic defeat of the 2011 World Cup winners Japan in Murcia.

If there was any fear that the momentum of Wiegman’s side was slowing after a 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic last month followed the 2-1 defeat of USA at Wembley, then that was put to bed comfortably against a historically tricky team as they continue to march towards the World Cup with expectations rising with each game.

The Lionesses have now scored 123 goals and conceded just six times since Wiegman took charge in September 2021 and have won all seven games played outside of the UK, scoring 44 and conceding none.

“We played a very good game,” said Wiegman. “It was a very attractive game with lots of football. They played in a shape we haven’t had a lot against us so that was good to practice that, they changed a bit in the second half then they changed back so we had to adapt all the time. It’s really good to see the players do so well and to see different players and to see substitutes come on and do a good job.”

There were several changes to the team that took to the field for the draw with the Czech Republic last month that ended a run of 15 wins. However, many were enforced changes rather than being of the manager’s choosing. Only Millie Bright, who was handed the armband with Leah Williamson out injured, remained in the back line, with Esme Morgan making her senior debut alongside the Chelsea centre-back and Niamh Charles and Rachel Daly at full-back.

Beth Mead, making her 50th England appearance, two days after being named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, and the Manchester United forward Alessia Russo returned up front and Georgia Stanway was on in place of Fran Kirby.

Also ruled out of this camp was Lauren Hemp and Jordan Nobbs, while a minor injury to the included Alex Greenwood and positive Covid tests from Lucy Bronze alongside a minor injury, saw them omitted from the matchday squad (albeit with Bronze having returned a negative test prior to kick-off) with Wiegman saying that “now isn’t the time to take risks”.

Wiegman had praised the challenge that would be posed by a technical Japan side but said she hoped England could dominate.

The Japanese were unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions prior to the trip to Spain – nine wins and four draws – with the team’s last defeat coming to Iceland a year ago.

As the wind whipped almost violently through the Pinatar Arena, England did just that despite the potential disruption of numerous changes.

Ella Toone scores England’s third goal during the victory
Ella Toone scores England’s third goal during the victory. Photograph: Naomi Baker/The FA/Getty Images

It took the Manchester United duo Russo and Ella Toone two minutes to combine and for the latter to force a save from Ayaka Yamashita. Toone, who has signed a new contract with United, would go close again, but she scuffed her shot as she swung at Chloe Kelly’s cross.

There was danger minutes later as Jun Endo floated the ball towards Arsenal’s Mana Iwabuchi but those moments from Japan were fleeting. Far less fleeting were the pinpoint crosses flying in from Kelly on the left as England sought the opener.

The hero of the final of the Euros, just four months ago, was rampant and could perhaps feel frustrated at the profligacy of her teammates. In quick succession she twice delivered for Russo but the first was just ahead of the forward and the second was headed on to the post from six yards out. Russo could be forgiven, given that the forward has only recently returned from injury.

In the 38th minute the story was the same, with Kelly’s cross missed by Russo but this time Daly arrived to power in at the far post.

The full-back, who plays up front at club level, is constantly being considered for a role further forward said Wiegman. “She’s so versatile, she played a really good game from full-back too and she scored from that position,” she said. “She’s an option to try out up front too but we also have to look at which players we have available and what’s best for the team.”

In the second half the Lionesses doubled their lead in style, Mead, released on the right, sent a cross in from the right, Russo could not reach it but Kelly was on hand to fire past Yamashita.

The introduction of Ebony Salmon and Lauren James in the 64th minute for Russo and Kelly upped the ante and 12 minutes later they were both involved as Toone collected Salmon’s reverse pass and sent in England’s third with her left foot.

The fourth spoke to the depth and potency of the European champions’ squad, with Salmon, delivering from the right and the substitute Jess Park firing in from close range shortly after coming off the bench to make her debut.

The Lionesses play Norway on Tuesday in their final game of 2022.

Sarina Wiegman admits more progress needed on diversity in women’s football | England women’s football team

Sarina Wiegman has said more needs to be done to address the lack of diversity in women’s football, before England friendlies against Japan and Norway in Spain.

“I would love to see more black players in the team,” said the manager, whose team face Japan on Friday and Norway on Tuesday. “For me, with the senior squad, the process is done already, so I pick the best players – whoever that is, I’ll pick the best players to perform. But I do think we need to do more and the FA is doing more, to give access to everyone that wants to play football.”

After the Lionesses triumphed at the Euros this summer, the team sent a letter to the Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak calling for equal access to football in schools. Wiegman said that was part of the process.

“The team has shared the letter calling for every girl to have access to football. That also counts for every boy, every girl, whatever skin colour you have. [Everyone] needs to have access to football, in England, in Europe, in the world, and yes we really have to work on that and the FA is working on that.”

The team are in talks with the government about this issue too, with the next conversations scheduled for this month.

“That is really powerful, said Wiegman. “We [the team] talk all the time. Now the players have a voice. In our environment it starts with performing, and we have to maintain performances because if you keep performing you will be visible and you will have a voice. We have so many powerful players and personalities in our team and they are using their voices to address these things and that’s really good.”

Wiegman will be without Lucy Bronze, who is testing positive for Covid, and Alex Greenwood, who has a minor injury, for the Japan game, adding to a growing absentee list. Wiegman said it was important they “don’t take risks”.

“We knew that off the back of the Euros, starting straight away with competition, lots playing in the Champions League too, that we probably would have injuries and people wouldn’t be available but you just adapt to the situation,” she said. “It also gives other players the opportunity to play and be part of the team and, for us, an opportunity to see where they’re at and how they compete with the players that have been in the team for a long time. It’s not the World Cup yet – we’re still in preparation.”

Preserving players’ fitness and keeping them injury-free is difficult with a calendar that has meant senior players will be competing in back-to-back tournaments for five years (the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Euros in 2022, World Cup in 2023, Paris Olympics in 2024 and Euros in 2025).

“We know that there’s tournament, tournament, tournament and it’s good to have tournaments and to have your best players available,” said Wiegman. “But they also need some rest – they’re not robots – and there hasn’t been that much rest for players. We, with clubs too, are managing players. We have this programme and we do individual adjustments to keep players fit.”

Beth Mead: ‘People said last year was revenge but it was more of a love tour’ | England women’s football team

“It shows how much more powerful love can be than hate,” Beth Mead says as she reflects on a year of tumult and glory which has changed her life. The Arsenal striker won the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament as she helped England become European champions in the summer but also had to endure the pain of her mother’s cancer and the upsetting memory of how, last year, she had been excluded from the GB squad at the Olympic Games.

Those football woes, and her worry and care for her mum, meant that Mead began last season in a frame of mind which, I suggest, seemed to fuse anger and love. The 27-year-old replaces “anger” with an even starker word in “hate” as she conveys her hurt. “I would say me hating that situation I was in [after missing the Olympics and with her England future unsettled] was my main motivator in pre-season. But the perspective of what my mum is going through meant I needed to snap out of it, stop being a baby and enjoy my football again. I wanted to find the enjoyment I had as a six-year-old girl when I started playing football.”

Mead smiles on a dark afternoon at Arsenal’s training ground as she says: “A lot of people have mentioned that the last year was a revenge tour for me. Actually, it’s been more of a love tour.”

She has just written a book where the most moving pages emerge in a chapter about her mum’s cancer. The situation is so raw that Mead asks not to talk about her mother in too much detail. Even the memory of how she found out that her mum was ill, when Mead answered her phone while having a bath, is bruising and still very painful. “I felt dazed, winded. I put the phone down reeling with shock, unable to register everything Mum had just said to me. My tears mingled with the bathwater until I couldn’t tell which was which.”

Mead explains that the brave and stoical way in which her mother has confronted the disease inspires her. She has spent all year “trying to put a smile on my mum’s face. Obviously this summer was incredible, to share that moment with her when we won the Euros. I try to find where my parents are during the warm-up to every game. But for me to get to them straight after the final was special because all I wanted was to share that moment with them. We had so many happy tears but lots of emotion came out about the struggles I’ve had throughout. We were thinking of everything that went before that moment and for us to share that together in front of a packed-out Wembley was incredible.”

‘I was struggling … it’s OK not to be OK’: Beth Mead opens up in new book – video

Mead’s voice remains steady when I ask how her mum is coping with her treatment. “She’s in hospital at the moment. There’s obviously a lot of repercussions about management of chemo. It’s taking its toll on her a little bit but she’s doing OK.”

The admirable way in which Jen Beattie, her Arsenal teammate, has kept playing football while recovering from breast cancer has been a source of comfort and hope for Mead. “Jen’s been amazing. All the Arsenal girls and the staff have been incredible to me but Jen’s experienced cancer. She understands how it affects the family as well as the person involved. She’s been great.”

Mead suffered anxiety as a young girl and her book captures how she sometimes claimed to be ill, or even developed psychosomatic symptoms, as she tried to avoid leaving home or going on England youth training camps. “They made me the player and person I am today,” she says of those early insecurities. “Lots of things unsettled me. I was very much a home girl with a great family around me. Leaving that was always difficult.”

Beth Mead is congratulated by Jen Beattie after scoring Arsenal’s second goal in their 4-0 win over Coventry United in their FA Cup quarter-final in March 2022.
Beth Mead is congratulated by Jen Beattie after scoring for Arsenal. ‘Jen’s been amazing. She understands how cancer affects the family as well as the person involved.’ Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

At the same time Mead felt she “always had a point to prove. I’m still doing that to this day, to prove people wrong, but that set in from a very young age.”

Her formative years were spent playing for a boys’ team and she got used to the sniggers and mocking words when the opposition and their parents saw she was a girl. “It became the norm but I love playing football and as soon as I got on that pitch, over that white line, I didn’t hear them. By the end of most games, I had so much respect from the other boys and their parents.”

Life became more complicated as she began playing girls’ football. Her prodigious goalscoring meant that she was offered a chance to join Sunderland – which she initially resisted by telling her parents that, after throwing her kit and boots in the bin, she was giving up football. They were patient and helped her find the confidence to accept the opportunity. But when she was picked for England youth teams, “I would never sleep the night before. I curled up on the end of my mum and dad’s bed and then I would make up that I was sick or I made myself sick because I was that anxious and nervous.”

Even when she signed for Arsenal in 2017, at the age of 21, Mead found the transition from the north-east upsetting. She needed her mum to come south for a while to settle her homesickness. It did not take long for Mead’s talent to flourish and she was soon called up for the national side. She made her international debut in April 2018 and set up Ellen White’s equaliser in the World Cup semi-finals a year later. England eventually lost 2-1 to the United States in a defeat which Mead believes fired her and her teammates with the resolve they needed to become European champions.

Mead had a “love-hate” working relationship with Phil Neville when he was England manager. He recognised her potential but often warned Mead that she was “too nice” and needed to develop an angrier edge. That anger duly came when Neville’s replacement, Hege Riise, echoed an earlier England manager, Mark Sampson, in making it clear that she did not have much faith in Mead. Riise left a devastated Mead out of the GB Olympic squad.

Beth Mead of Arsenal surges forward as Sunderland’s Hayley Sharp looks on during their November 2017 Women’s Super League match.
Beth Mead moved to Arsenal in January 2017 and her form soon won her an England call-up. Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

“This was the first time I’d not been selected for a squad,” Mead says. “I struggled mostly with the reasoning she gave me. My bread-and-butter is being aggressive on the pitch, being on the front foot, winning balls back, and she basically told me that was the reason for me not going to the Olympics. For the next four weeks I was pretty low, not in a good place, and hated the way I was thinking. I didn’t want [GB] to do well even though I love some of the girls in that team. I was borderline depressed but then I got back for pre-season and things happened with my mum. I knew I had to stop being a child, snap out of it and work hard.”

Her new determination coincided with the arrival of Jonas Eidevall as Arsenal manager and he surprised Mead by suggesting she was good enough to win the Ballon d’Or. By the time the Euros were under way Mead, after an outstanding domestic season, was in superlative form. She picks out her hat-trick performance against Norway, when she was described in this newspaper as being “absolutely unplayable”, as the highpoint in terms of the sheer quality she produced in an 8-0 victory: “I felt I could have done anything and it would have gone right that day. That was a game where nobody was going to bring me down.”

She stresses that so much of England’s European triumph was down to Sarina Wiegman, who transformed the squad and an atmosphere which Mead describes as “flat” and “bitchy” towards the end of Neville’s tenure. “It was difficult for anyone to come in but she stamped her authority, and what she wants the culture and environment to look like, as soon as she got here,” Mead says of the Dutch coach.

“In a short period she changed the environment to one we love. Sarina has this amazing knack of helping you know exactly where you stand and her communication is impeccable. She also has this incredible ability to make you feel so calm as a team and an individual when it’s a high-pressure moment. In the changing room before the final she was as calm as you like. She is just an incredible human being and obviously she’s won a Euro championship before in her home country.”

Mead stresses that the quarter-final against Spain was England’s most difficult match of the tournament. “Germany in the final was hard but coming from behind against Spain, and getting the equaliser so late before going on to win, was so tough.”

England manager Sarina Wiegman speaks to her players after their Euro 2022 quarter-final victory over Spain.
England’s manager Sarina Wiegman speaks to her players after their Euro 2022 quarter-final victory over Spain. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/The FA/Getty Images

Spain were without arguably the best player in the world as Alexia Putellas missed most of last season with a bad knee injury. Putellas’s absence from top-flight football meant that Mead should really have won the Ballon d’Or as the European game’s most prestigious individual prize is meant to be awarded to the player who achieved most in the preceding season. “Yes,” Mead says simply. “I didn’t think I was that invested in it until I came second and it was so close, by one vote. It was something like 163 points for her and 162 for me. Considering what we did at the Euros, and my individual achievements, I could have won it. But I’m even more hungry to win things now.”

Winning the World Cup next year is Mead’s and England’s next testing target. But I am curious as to why there are so few black players in England’s squad. Mead shakes her head when asked whether this anomaly suggests there might be a residual issue of racial prejudice in the development of English women’s football: “I think it’s completely coincidental. We put out our best 11 and you don’t think of anyone’s race or anything like that. I think that’s more an outsider’s perspective.”

Mead, who has spoken out against homophobia in Qatar, where the men’s World Cup is about to be played, highlights how healthy the women’s game is in regard to sexuality. “I’d love to bridge that gap to make it more normal [in men’s football], but it’s a culture,” she says. “The men’s game needs to catch up and get in the 21st century. As women we don’t sit there and put out a big fancy statement that we’ve got a girlfriend or we’re gay, bisexual or whatever. We’re normal human beings. If you’re happy it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with.”

Beth Mead (centre left) scores England’s final goal, and complete her hat-trick, in the Lionesses 8-0 win Norway in their Euro 2022 group game.
Beth Mead (centre left) scores England’s final goal, and completes her hat-trick, in the 8-0 win over Norway in Euro 2022. ‘I felt I could have done anything in that game’. Photograph: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Mead is settled in her private life as she and Vivianne Miedema, the brilliant Dutch striker and her Arsenal teammate who was also nominated for the Ballon d’Or, have a happy relationship off the field. Their parents first met each other in Zwolle in 2007 when Miedema and Mead made their international youth debuts in the same under-15 game between the Netherlands and England. “Small world, eh?” Mead says with a grin. “It’s crazy because we both scored and our families met.”

It still took years for them to fall in love because Miedema’s arrival at Arsenal came just as Mead was trying to establish herself. “Obviously I had to move positions [and play in a wide role rather than as the central striker] because Queen Viv came in.”

Mead laughs. “It worked out well because that position suits me much more. In our first few years we weren’t jumping with excitement for each other but things have worked out great for us. We know and understand each other’s life and schedule and expectations and we’re pretty good at being able to switch off and not bring football into the house. I was buzzing about the Ballon d’Or, as it was my first, but Viv did remind me it was her fourth.”

She is still worried about her mum, and adjusting to fame, but Mead sounds secure as she says: “The football pitch has always been my safe space and that’s still true today. It’s the place where I switch off and enjoy myself. You’re supposed to call it a job but I just love it. I don’t think too many people in the world can say that every day.”

Beth Mead’s Lioness is published by Hachette

Lotte Wubben-Moy makes ‘tough’ decision not to watch Qatar World Cup | World Cup 2022

Lionesses centre-back Lotte Wubben-Moy has said she will be supporting the England men’s team at the World Cup in Qatar but “won’t be watching” the tournament due to the country’s views on women, homosexuality and human rights.

“It’s tough,” said Wubben-Moy, who is travelling with England to Spain for friendlies against Japan and Norway on Friday and next Tuesday. “As an England team we all have strong values and a lot of those values aren’t reflected, in the way that we see it, in Qatar.”

Wubben-Moy has been a vocal advocate for equality and instigated a letter from the Lionesses to the Conservative leadership candidates calling for equal access to football in schools. She also has a clause in her contract which commits her to working with Arsenal in the Community to set up a project aimed at young women and girls. “It’s a tough conversation to have and there’s a lot of dialogue around it,” she said.

“I will be supporting the men’s team, but I won’t be watching. It’s hard to talk about but at the end of the day, we’re one team here at England and we know that they have an opportunity to play at a World Cup and it’s hard to look beyond that really.”

Responding to Fifa’s message to teams competing in Qatar to “not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists”, Wubben-Moy said: “Sport is a very strong vehicle for change. To underestimate that would be naive. I’ve seen a lot of the players have strong viewpoints and I salute them, and I wish them the best in looking to express that throughout this World Cup.

“A lot of the players might not ever play in a World Cup again, so I can’t comment on them choosing to go because many people would take that same choice. But [if] they can use this opportunity to help bring about change, I think that’s important.”

Wubben-Moy’s Lionesses teammate Alex Greenwood said: “We obviously can’t choose where the World Cup is happening. We have to try to change the negative into a positive and speak about the things that we can maybe highlight and what we believe in as a country and that’s for all women to have equal rights. That’s something we’ll talk about openly, and I’m sure the men will do the same.”

Wubben-Moy echoed Greenwood’s sentiments, while Beth Mead told BBC Radio 4 last week that the ban on homosexuality in Qatar was “the complete opposite to what I believe and respect”.

“It’s not something I will be backing or promoting,” said the England forward, who is in a relationship with her Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema. “It’s disappointing in the sense that there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”

‘There’s no respect’: England’s Beth Mead will not support Qatar World Cup | World Cup 2022

The England forward Beth Mead said on Thursday she would not show her support for this year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Mead, who is in a relationship with her Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema, told BBC Radio 4 the ban on homosexuality in Qatar was “the complete opposite to what I believe and respect”.

“It’s not something I will be backing or promoting,” Mead said. “It’s disappointing in the sense that there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”

England’s captain, Harry Kane, and captains of seven other European nations who have qualified for the World Cup have said they will wear an anti-discrimination armband during the tournament in Qatar, which starts on 20 November.

“Although I’m cheering for the boys who are going to play football there, from the minute it was announced I thought it wasn’t the best idea,” Mead said. “We’re in the 21st century and you fall in love with who you fall in love with. It doesn’t matter who they are.”

Mead said she never felt she had to hide her relationship with Miedema. “In the men’s game they feel they have to make a statement of the situation. It’s been a culture, and that culture needs to shift. Is it a generation thing? Is it a culture thing in the game? I would love to help try and bridge that gap to just try and make it the norm.”

The 27-year-old won the Golden Boot and was named player of the tournament at this year’s European Championship for her instrumental role in helping England win their first major title.

Sarina Wiegman ‘has not spoken’ to Hannah Hampton in two months | England women’s football team

Sarina Wiegman has revealed she has not spoken to Hannah Hampton since dropping the goalkeeper from the England squad in September.

Addressing the issue after she announced her squad for this month’s games against Japan and Norway in Spain, the manager said: “I haven’t spoken to her myself. We have made a plan. She is at the club and taking care of that. We are supporting and that’s where we are at right now.”

On Monday the Guardian reported that Hampton had been dropped by England and Aston Villa for poor behaviour and an attitude problem, but Wiegman would not be drawn on details. She reiterated what she said in September, namely that “personal issues” were behind the omission.

“The same reason as I said in September, nothing’s changed,” she said. “She still has to do something personal, that I would not like to comment on.”

Asked whether Hampton could return, after the Guardian reported that she was unlikely to play for the manager again, Wiegman said: “The door is always open. When players perform and perform consistently for their club then they have a chance.”

Hampton has not played for Villa since September, first because of an unspecified injury before she was passed fit for Sunday’s game against Chelsea but told to “stay at home” by the manager, Carla Ward.

Quick Guide

England Women squad


Goalkeepers Mary Earps, Sandy Maciver, Ellie Roebuck.

Defenders Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Niamh Charles, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood, Maya Le Tissier, Esme Morgan, Lotte Wubben-Moy.

Midfielders Fran Kirby, Jordan Nobbs, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh, Katie Zelem.

Forwards Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Alessia Russo, Katie Robinson, Ebony Salmon.

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Although Hampton was considered by Villa on Saturday to have been match ready she said on Tuesday she needed a small medical procedure and would be out for several weeks. In a statement on social media she wrote: “I’ve been suffering with an ongoing medical issue for a while and it’s time to address it properly this week with a small procedure. I’ll be out for a few weeks now as I recover with the support of everyone at the club.”

Wiegman has handed first call-ups to the Manchester United centre-back Maya Le Tissier and versatile Brighton forward Katie Robinson for the matches on 11 and 15 November in Murcia.

“We have eight months to get prepared for the World Cup,” said Wiegman. “We want to see where the young players are now. Maya has done really well. There are a couple of players that are doing well in their teams and the Under-23s so this is an opportunity for them to show what they can do in our squad.”

Jordan Nobbs has been included after her goals and standout performances in back-to-back games for Arsenal.

Wiegman said she had spoken to the former captain Steph Houghton, who is back playing for Manchester City, although not week-in, week-out. “I think now she’s not ready to compete or ready for us in the squad which obviously she wants,” she said. “She really needs minutes too, to show and get consistency. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t look into the future. I think at the moment it’s really hard with having the team now, the players she’s competing with.”

One player who has not had had a look-in at any level for England but is turning heads is Tottenham’s Ash Neville, who scored twice in the club’s 8-0 demolition of Brighton on Sunday. “We watch all the players,” said Wiegman. “At the moment she’s doing a really good job at Tottenham. We choose other players at this moment who we believe are better.”

Euros winner Hannah Hampton dropped by England over attitude | England women’s football team

Hannah Hampton, a member of England’s victorious Euro 2022 squad, has been dropped by Sarina Wiegman because of her behaviour and attitude at the team’s camps, the Guardian understands.

The 21-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper has not been called up by Wiegman since the Euros, where she deputised alongside Ellie Roebuck for Mary Earps, and is unlikely to be selected again under this England manager.

Hampton has not played for Villa since 25 September and was left out of the squad for Sunday’s game at Chelsea. She watched from the stands even though the manager, Carla Ward, has said Hampton was told to stay at home.

Multiple sources have told the Guardian that Hampton has caused problems with her behaviour and attitude in England age-group teams and at club level. The Football Association, Villa and Hampton’s representatives declined to comment.

Before England’s World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Luxembourg in September, Wiegman said Hampton was absent because “she has some personal issues that she has to solve so for her at this moment it’s better for her to stay at her club”. Hampton was also omitted for October’s friendlies against the USA and the Czech Republic and will not be included on Tuesday in the squad Wiegman names for games in November against Japan and Norway in Spain.

Hampton started the first two games of this season for Villa, whom she joined from Birmingham in July 2021, and then had a spell out because of an unspecified injury. Ward said Hampton was fit to play against Chelsea and that she omitted her “in the best interests of the team”.

Hampton travelled to Kingsmeadow and posted a photo from the stands with the caption “let’s go team” and “utv” (Up the Villa). Ward said after the match: “Hannah was available. Something happened yesterday, and we decided it was in the best interests of the team for her to stay at home so I did exactly that. That’s all I really want to say on the matter.

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“I made the decision in the best interests of the team to leave her home and I left her home. I would probably prefer to talk about the 11 who were here.”

Hampton received a first senior international call in February 2020 for the SheBelieves Cup, when Phil Neville was the manager. She made her senior England debut on 20 February this year, starting a 0-0 draw with Spain in the Arnold Clark Cup, the friendly tournament organised to help prepare the Lionesses for the Euros.

Women’s World Cup 2023: the complete group-by-group preview | Women’s World Cup 2023

Group A – New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland

Co-hosts New Zealand will be delighted. With the Olympic champions (Canada), the 2019 World Cup runners up (the Netherlands) and the 2011 World Cup winners (Japan) in Pot 2 there was a chance their Pot 1 placement, as a home nation, could mean little. Instead, out came Norway, thumped 8-0 by England in the group stage of the Euros, Switzerland, a team ranked one place ahead of them and debutants the Philippines. Switzerland and Norway will be favourites to progress, but New Zealand have a real chance to move on to the last 16.

Group B – Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Canada

Canada and the Republic of Ireland have a nasty trek to and from Perth sandwiched between games on the east coast. If New Zealand have been lucky in the draw, co-host Australia have not. The Matildas have struggled of late and Canada could easily beat them to top spot, setting up a tricky tie with the winners of Group D, which will most likely be England. Upsetting an Australia and Canada one-two, whichever way round it might be, will be tough, but Nigeria and Ireland will not be walkovers.

Canada are aiming to top Group B after becoming 2019 Olympic Champions in Tokyo.
Canada are aiming to top Group B after becoming 2019 Olympic Champions in Tokyo. Photograph: DPPI/Photo Kishimoto/LiveMedia/Shutterstock

Group C – Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan

Spain and Japan will be eyeing a very smooth run to the quarter-finals. Spain’s pre-World Cup situation is complicated by the dispute of many of its senior players with the federation and coach, Jorge Vilda, but their understudies showed they can beat the best, with an unlikely victory over the injury-hit USA in a recent friendly. Costa Rica and Zambia, making a second and first appearance respectively, are unlikely to trouble Spain regardless of who is on the pitch, or Japan. With the winner and runners-up of Group A guaranteed to play lower-ranked sides a deep run is a tantalising prospect.

Group D – England, playoff B winner, Denmark, China

The draw has been kind to England with Denmark, China and the winner of playoff B (Chile, Senegal or Haiti) all unlikely to troublethem. They have also avoided the dreaded cross-country trip to Perth the other two confirmed sides have to make for their opener. The challenge comes in the last 16 as Australia or Canada potentially lie in wait. The battle for second place is where the juice is, with China, ranked 15th in the world, up against Denmark (18th in the world) and built around Pernille Harder.

Denmark’s Pernille Harder.
England need to be wary of Denmark and Pernille Harder. Photograph: Simon Dael/Shutterstock

Group E – United States, Vietnam, Netherlands, playoff A winner

A rematch of the 2019 final between USA and the Netherlands is a tasty prospect. They will be hoping to top the group to avoid a last-16 tie with likely Group E winners, Sweden, and the Netherlands will be eager to finally get the better of the USA on a big stage. One of Portugal, Cameroon or Thailand will complete the group, and the playoff winner and Vietnam are unlikely to upset the applecart.

Group F – France, Jamaica, Brazil, playoff C winner

France could do very well in 2023 if they get their act together. The off-field drama, with manager, Corinne Diacre, falling out with Eugénie Le Sommer and Amandine Henry, did surprisingly little to disrupt a strong Euros performance. Instead, it was an injury to Marie-Antoinette Katoto that caused them to stutter. Katoto is in a race against time to come back from her ACL injury for next summer but it is possible. Brazil will compete in the World Cup without influential midfielder Formiga for only the second time in the competition’s history. They have lost three, drawn three and won twice against European opposition this year, including a 2-1 defeat to France. Jamaica make their second appearance and one of Chinese Taipei, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea and Panama complete the group.

Group G – Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina

Sweden will be favourites to clinch the group with their pedigree. Italy had a hugely disappointing summer, where they finished bottom of Group D at the Euros behind France, Belgium and Iceland with one point and scoring only twice. Should the Italians finish second then the winner of Group E, likely to be the USA or the Netherlands, awaits. South Africa and Argentina will be targeting improvement on the 2019 edition after the former lost all their games and the latter drew twice and lost once at the group stage.

Group H – Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea

Germany are nailed on to top Group H. The Euros runners-up impressed in England and are ranked third in the world behind the USA and Sweden. Secure victory and they play the runner-up of Group F, likely to be France or Brazil, and then a possible Euros final rematch with England is on the cards. Morocco are making their World Cup debut, while Colombia failed to qualify in 2019 having reached the last 16 in 2015. South Korea offer Germany’s biggest challenge, though this is their fourth World Cup and they have qualified from the group stage once, in 2015.