England boss Sarina Wiegman declared she is willing to “make changes” as the Lionesses look to secure a second successive World Cup victory against Denmark on Friday.
Wiegman stuck with the same starting XI for every match of England’s triumphant Euro 2022 campaign, but the retirements of striker Ellen White and midfielder Jill Scott alongside injuries to European champions Beth Mead, Leah Williamson and Fran Kirby have left her current 23-woman squad looking significantly different.
The 53-year-old called for more “ruthlessness” from her side following the nervy 1-0 tournament-opening win over Haiti, decided by Georgia Stanway’s retaken penalty despite several missed chances in open play.
Asked if that demand might also apply to her own team selection, Wiegman replied: “That I’m more likely to make changes doesn’t have to do with that.
“I want to make changes. What we do is approach every game, and then when we get ready for that game we see who is fit and available, and then we make decisions to what we need to start with.
“And then we decide whether we are going to start with the same XI or maybe make some changes.”
England’s performance against underdogs Haiti fuelled concerns that the Lionesses looked rusty, particularly in an attack led by Alessia Russo in favour of Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner Rachel Daly.
There was also a World Cup debut for Chelsea forward Lauren James, who some pundits wanted to start but instead replaced Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp on the left wing after 61 minutes.
Like many of her players this week, Wiegman, who has a fully-fit squad to choose from, was eager to point out that this team and tournament are very different from last summer’s home European Championships.
She said: “We shouldn’t compare it all the time. We’re in a new situation now, and we have some changes in team dynamics.
“We have our style of playing, we want to develop our style of play every time and we want to score goals. That’s one of the parts, of course.
“And that’s what we’re working on all the time, every day. What do we have (to do) to create chances and score goals? That’s what we talk about all the time too. At the end, we hope that the ball gets into the back of the net.”
The Lionesses could book their place in the knockout stage on Friday if they see off Denmark and China do not beat Haiti in the late kick-off.
Scoring will certainly remain a concern, as will be shutting down Denmark number nine and captain Pernille Harder, the ex-Chelsea threat whom England defender Lucy Bronze called “one of the best players in the world”.
Bronze added: “Not just for Chelsea, but also when she played for Wolfsburg and also for Denmark. She’s a tough player, but equally we’ve got many of those in our England side as well.”
Harder, who will go up against several former Blues team-mates, including England defensive duo Millie Bright and Jess Carter, said: “We need to enjoy it, we need to enjoy that, use the energy, even if they might not all support us, take the whole event and use it as a positive.
“Put in the extra effort in the field, really enjoy the moment, that’s what we must do. It’s great to be in a World Cup, that’s for sure, and it’s really cool to play all these matches. So, you shouldn’t think about the pressure but really just think about how cool it is.”
Denmark boss Lars Sondergaard added: “I started saying we were underdogs, sometimes when you enter a match you are underdogs and you need to perform well against a superpower such as England.
“That’s easier said than done but, as Pernille said, there’s a World Cup every four years, you’re not getting many of these opportunities in your career, right? So it would be a mortal sin not to enjoy it.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub