Women’s Nations League: Beth Mead returns to England squad after ACL injury

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Beth Mead scored six goals as England won Euro 2022 and was named the tournament’s best player

Arsenal forward Beth Mead has been named in the England squad for the first time in a year following her return from a serious knee injury.

Mead, who claimed the Golden Boot as England won Euro 2022, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in November 2022.

She is named in Sarina Wiegman’s 23-player squad for next month’s Women’s Nations League matches.

England face the Netherlands at Wembley, then Scotland at Hampden Park.

On Mead’s return, manager Wiegman said: “Of course that’s really nice. She’s played minutes and is in a good place and still building too. It was a very nice phone call and she was very happy.

“We’ve had conversations all the time. We had some before the September camp and in October too because she was already fully training and getting some minutes then. I wanted to see a little more and that’s what we have seen that now.

“Her health is really good so she can just go. She has shown in games that she is in a good place. She is still improving but she has shown enough for us to bring her in.”

There are further call-ups for 20-year-old Grace Clinton, on loan at Tottenham from Manchester United, and Manchester City goalkeeper Khiara Keating, 19, who were involved in October’s squad for the first time.

Aston Villa defender Lucy Parker is absent with an ankle injury, while Manchester City forward Jess Park, Villa striker Ebony Salmon and experienced midfielder Laura Coombs are among those to miss out on selection.

England are the nominated nation on behalf of Team GB to seal qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics but they must win their Women’s Nations League group.

It is finely poised with England currently third in the group, three points off leaders the Netherlands, who they face on Friday, 1 December.

Opponents Scotland, who they play on Tuesday, 5 December, are currently bottom of the group with one point.

‘Not a moment to experiment’

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Aggie Beever-Jones has scored four goals in four successive WSL games for Chelsea

Wiegman’s squad has plenty of familiar names including 16 of the 23 players who were selected for Euro 2022.

There were calls for 20-year-old Chelsea forward Aggie Beever-Jones to be considered after she scored four goals across four consecutive Women’s Super League matches, including one on her first start at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

“She scored a nice goal this weekend, again. She’s in our conversations [but] I think it’s a bit too early,” said Wiegman.

“We see good things. She’s in the England under-23s squad so it’s good she can get the minutes there and keep developing. I hope she just keeps improving and gives us headaches again with our selection.”

Mead’s return means Wiegman has an attacking line-up stacked with quality making it harder for the likes of Beever-Jones, Park and Salmon to earn selection.

Wiegman also admitted she considered the importance of the two fixtures in her selection, opting for experience over experimentation.

“We have so many options. There’s huge competition in [the attacking] positions,” added Wiegman.

“You can’t select 10 wingers because then you don’t have balance in the squad, but it gives opportunity and a lot of competition.

“It’s good for the game and for England to have options in positions.

“Of course it’s all about quality first and foremost but also this would not be a moment to experiment a little bit. We know what we have to do. It’s one of the reasons we don’t want to change the squad.”

Roebuck delivered ‘hard message’ by Wiegman

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Ellie Roebuck was England and Team GB’s number one before Sarina Wiegman’s arrival in 2021

Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck has lost her starting place at Manchester City to 19-year-old Keating and that has led to her exclusion from this month’s England squad.

She has not been involved in recent City squads despite being fully fit and sat in the stands for Sunday’s Manchester derby.

“Of course that’s really hard for her, with the position she has at [her] club now. We did have conversations with her,” said Wiegman.

“At the last camp we decided to keep four goalkeepers. Now we went back to three, so I had to give her the hard message that we didn’t pick her for now.

“She just has to work hard and see if she can find opportunities to play. Right now, in the very short-term, that’s probably not going to happen.”

Full England squad:

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), Khiara Keating (Manchester City).

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Maya le Tissier (Manchester United), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Grace Clinton (Tottenham, on loan from Manchester United), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United).

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Arsenal).

Reference

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