Mead left out of World Cup squad as Bright named captain

Sarina Wiegman

Euro 2022 top scorer Beth Mead is not included in England’s Women’s World Cup squad, having not fully recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Arsenal forward, 27, has not played since November and was a major doubt.

Tottenham striker Beth England, who has not been involved since last summer, is included having scored 12 goals in her past 12 Women’s Super League games.

Chelsea centre-back Millie Bright, who has been out with a knee injury since March, has made the 23-player squad.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman confirmed Bright would captain the team in the absence of injured defender Leah Williamson.

Midfielder Fran Kirby was also already ruled out through injury, but Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze is in despite having knee surgery in April.

Wiegman said she did not ever think there was a chance Mead would be fit in time for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

“She’s so positive and going well, but the timescale she had we would have taken so many risks to get to the World Cup,” said Wiegman.

“I’m not willing to take that risk to push her too much and she gets injured again. We need to take care of players.”

There is no place for Manchester United forward Nikita Parris or defender Maya le Tissier, but Le Tissier has been placed on standby, alongside uncapped goalkeeper Emily Ramsey and forward Jess Park.

Manchester City defender Steph Houghton, who captained England for eight years, has not been called up despite injuries in defence leading to some calls for her return.

Midfielder Laura Coombs is one of six players in the squad who will be going to their first major tournament, along with Chelsea pair Lauren James and Niamh Charles, Manchester City’s Esme Morgan, Manchester United’s Katie Zelem and Brighton’s Katie Robinson.

England play Haiti in their opening match on 22 July in Australia.

Le Tissier was ‘really close’

Wiegman said her decision to leave out Le Tissier, 21, was one of the hardest to make because of competition in defensive positions, where there is lots of versatility.

She has just two caps for England but has impressed at centre-back for United this season.

Le Tissier, Ramsey and Park will train with the squad at St George’s Park in June. Goalkeeper Ramsey will leave the group prior to departure for Australia.

“Of course [Le Tissier] was really close,” said Wiegman. “That was a hard call. With all the defenders we had to think about it.

“She just didn’t get there. She has had a very good season at Manchester United.”

While there was bitter disappointment for Le Tissier, England received her first call up for a year and was rewarded for her goalscoring form since making the January switch from Chelsea.

“She is selected because of her performances. She was at Chelsea and didn’t build that much credit because we hardly saw her play,” said Wiegman.

“But then she made a move, and how she did, performed and the resilience she showed made us make the decision to get her in the squad.”

‘Bright will be fine as captain’

Millie Bright

Aside from selection, another talking point was who would take over the captaincy from Williamson in her injury absence.

Bright was named vice-captain for Euro 2022 and Wiegman confirmed she will wear the armband in Australia.

“I haven’t told her she would be the captain, that’s how we’ve been all the time,” said Wiegman.

“Where she is at right now in her rehab, we haven’t really spoken about it yet. She will be fine, she has done it before.”

Another question was whether Aston Villa forward Rachel Daly, who was the WSL’s Player of the Season and top goalscorer, would play up front in the tournament having started every game at left-back at Euro 2022.

“Yes, she can, like some other players. She has had a very good season and done really well,” said Wiegman.

“She has played for us as a number nine and at the back. Her versatility helps the team.”

Wiegman’s decision to name 23 players is also different from last summer’s home Euros, where she had a longlist of 28 names initially.

“It has to do with the timescale and going to the other side of the world,” said Wiegman.

“While we were in England we could have training all the time and give clarity. Now we have a holiday then go quickly to Australia. So we wanted to have clarity on that.”

England squad

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City).

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

Midfielders: Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United).

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp, (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United).

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