England boss Sarina Wiegman is sure Tuesday’s match at home to Luxembourg will be a celebratory occasion – and has stressed she expects to see her side deliver a ruthless performance.
The game at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium, which has sold out, will be the Lionesses’ first on home soil since they won the Euros at Wembley in July.
It concludes their World Cup qualifying group fixtures, three days on after securing a place at next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand via a 2-0 away win over Austria.
England have scored 70 goals and conceded none across their nine victories in Group D, which included beating Luxembourg – who are 117th in the world rankings – 10-0 in the reverse fixture last September.
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Put to her that Tuesday would feel like something of a celebration, Wiegman told a press conference: “I think so. It’s really exciting. The support of the fans has been great in the Euros, but they keep coming now.
“Tomorrow it will be 30,000 coming to watch us, so we really want to show again our game and make a little celebration.”
Regarding what England produce on the evening, she then added: “This team is so eager to do well. I expect again a very energetic team that really wants to show and score lots of goals and – of course – conceding none.
“Tomorrow we want to be in possession as much as possible because their level compared to ours, there is a big difference, so we should show that I think. And then of course, we want to create many chances and score lots of goals. We want to win this game and want to get a good win.”
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Sandy MacIver, Ellie Roebuck
Defenders: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy
Midfielders: Jordan Nobbs, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh, Katie Zelem
Forwards: Bethany England, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Alessia Russo, Ebony Salmon
Wiegman: Changes needed in women’s game
England recorded their biggest competitive victory when beating Latvia 20-0 in Doncaster last November.
When asked if she would like to see things change in the future, so there were fewer meetings with teams like Luxembourg, Wiegman said: “We talked about this (before) of course – I think we need to make changes if it’s better for the development of the women’s game.
“I think sometimes a bigger score is OK, but when that’s all the time, you must question yourself – is that good for the team that loses that much, and for the team that wins that much? And it’s not an exception but it’s more a rule and then you might want to make some changes for the benefit of the game in both countries.
“I think that discussion has been going on for a while, also UEFA and FIFA, so we’ll see where that brings us.”
Wiegman, whose entire 23-player squad took part in training on Monday indicated that there would likely be some changes to her selection for Tuesday’s game.
Walsh in line for 50th cap
The manager was joined at the press conference by Keira Walsh, who could win her 50th England cap in the match.
The Manchester City midfielder was a star of England’s Euros campaign, and she said: “I think the first thing under Sarina I’ve found is a bit of consistency. I think I probably struggled a little bit with that before she came in.
“She’s given me the confidence to go and play my game. I think it’s just about carrying on this consistency now and the form I found at the Euros, I think a personal goal of mine is to keep bringing that forward.”
Walsh, who has been linked with Barcelona, also declined to speak about club matters when asked about her future, saying: “My focus is on England right now.”
England have won all of their nine qualifying games, scoring 70 goals without reply; watch the stars of Euro 2022 live on Sky Sports throughout the 2022/23 WSL season.
The new campaign kicks off on the weekend of September 10/11, with defending champions Chelsea starting at home to West Ham.
That curtain-raising round of fixtures also features a mouth-watering match-up between the teams which finished second and third in the WSL last season, with Arsenal going to Manchester City.
Arsenal only missed out on the title by a point last season, so their home match with Chelsea on the weekend of January 14/15 – the first round of games after the WSL’s month-long winter break – and trip to face Emma Hayes’ side on the penultimate weekend of the season, May 20/21, could be pivotal.