Tactical Insights

From Katie McCabe’s Arsenal team-mates to Barcelona stars: Meet the English who will take on Eileen Gleeson’s side

Boasting talent from clubs like Katie McCabe’s Arsenal and current Champions League holders Barcelona, here is all you need to know about the world’s number two ranked side, managed by Dutch native Sarina Wiegman.

Mary Earps, (Manchester United) Age: 31 Caps: 49

Voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year last December, England’s number one will win her 50th cap tonight having made her senior bow in 2017. The Nottingham native starred in her side’s run to Euro 2022 glory, despite considering her future the year before. But having signed a contract extension with United, she has been a mainstay for England under Wiegman. She made headlines last year when 170,000 people signed a petition to persuade Nike to reverse their decision not to sell her replica jersey before the World Cup, which later sold out in five minutes.

Ireland v England preview

Lucy Bronze, (Barcelona) Age: 32 Caps: 120

An England stalwart, Bronze had spells at Lyon and Manchester City before arriving in Spain in 2022. A four-time Champions League winner, the right-back was named FIFA Player of the Year in 2020 and helped Barcelona to a league title last season. Bronze is a versatile player but makes the biggest impact as an attacking full-back. Started all six games in the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph and netted a crucial goal in the semi-final win over Sweden.

Leah Williamson (Arsenal) Age: 27 Caps: 43

The captain is back. After suffering an ACL injury in April 2023, the 27-year-old will start tonight’s qualifier and win her first cap in over a year. “It has been a difficult journey. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the thing that I’d had my focus on,” she admitted yesterday. The centre-half, who can also play in midfield earned her debut in 2018 and made history in 2022 by becoming the first Englishwomen to lift a major trophy in the Lionesses’ European Championship triumph.

Alex Greenwood (Manchester City) Age: 30 Caps: 91

Nearing her 100th cap, the Liverpool native made her senior debut a little over a decade ago and is one of Wiegman’s most experienced players. The centre-half was England’s youngest player in the 2015 World Cup, in which they finished third. She started in the World Cup final defeat to Spain last year and on the domestic front, captained Manchester United to the Championship in 2019 but now wears blue with rivals Manchester City, following a short stint at Lyon where she picked up a Champions League medal.

Niamh Charles (Chelsea) Age: 24 Caps: 16

The left-back hails from Merseyside and came through Liverpool’s youth academy before going on to make 48 appearances for the Reds’ senior side. A memorable summer followed in 2020 as she secured a big move to WSL champions Chelsea, as well as receiving her first England call up. Charles, who can also operate as a winger, has multiple underage caps too and has helped the Blues to League and Cup success in each of the last three seasons. Has started England’s last seven matches and earned praise when she opened up on her mental health journey last month.

Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich) Age: 25 Caps: 66

Stanway is a highly-experienced midfielder and played a big role in her nation’s Euro success in 2022, starting all six games and netting an excellent quarter-final winner against Spain. She also featured in every match at last year’s World Cup and was the youngest player in their 2019 squad. With 17 England goals to her name, at club level the Lancashire native made over a century of appearances for Manchester City, helping them to the 2016 WSL title and three FA Cups. She arrived in Germany in 2022 and helped Bayern win last season’s league title by two points.

Keira Walsh (Barcelona) Age: 27 Caps: 72

One of two Barcelona players in the side, Walsh is a highly-experienced player winning 72 caps since her debut in 2017. The Rochdale native cut her teeth at Blackburn Rovers before spending eight years at childhood favourites Manchester City. She won a WSL title and three FA Cups during her time there before signing for Liga F giants Barcelona in 2022, where she won league and Champions League crowns last term. Also an avid badminton player, Walsh was named on the Euro 2022 Team of the Tournament and in 2018, became England’s youngest ever captain at 21-years-old.

Grace Clinton (Tottenham Hotspur, on loan from Manchester United) Age: 21 Caps: 3

One of the newer faces in Wiegman’s set-up, the United midfielder scored on her England debut against Austria last February and kept her place in the starting 11 for their 5-1 win over Italy. Liverpool native Clinton signed a three-year deal with United in 2022 and is on loan at Spurs this term, following a stint at Bristol City where she scored six goals in 12 appearances. Won her third cap in Friday’s draw against Sweden and feels she works best in a number 10 or number eight role.

Lauren Hemp (Manchester City) Age: 23 Caps: 54

Has amassed over a half century of caps despite being only 23-years-old, the Norfolk native made her debut in 2019 and has 18 international goals to her name. She endeared herself to fans by starting all six Euro 2022 games and scoring in the group stage. The forward has been named England Young Player of the Year on two occasions and at club level, is approaching her 100th appearance for Manchester City. Scored three goals in last year’s World Cup campaign Down under and a further three in the Nations League the followed, before hitting a brace in February’s thrashing of Italy.

Alessia Russo (Arsenal) Age: 25 Caps: 37

Also a teammate of Irish skipper McCabe, Russo is England’s focal point having scored 18 goals since her senior bow in 2020. The striker came through Chelsea’s academy before moving to the USA to study sport and exercise science in North Carolina. She returned to sign for Manchester United in 2020, the club she supported as a child. Arsenal tried to lure her away last year with a world record £400,000 bid. That was rejected but she arrived in north London on a free transfer last July. Scored three goals in last year’s World Cup and comes into tonight having scored against Sweden last week. Her 11-minute hat-trick against Latvia in 2021 was the fastest in Lionesses’ history.

Lauren James (Chelsea) Age: 22 Caps: 23

Forward James made her long-awaited England debut in 2022 and has six goals to her name to date. After coming up through the Chelsea and Arsenal academies, she spent three seasons up north with Manchester United before returning to the Blues in 2021, where she has helped Emma Hayes’ side to back-to-back League and Cup doubles. James, also the sister of Chelsea captain Reece, is a threat in one-on-one positions and can also play out wide or in midfield. James won the PFA Young Player of the Year last season and was also named in FIFA’s Women’s World 11.

Substitutes: Hannah Hampton (Age: 23 Caps: 3), Jess Carter (Age: 26 Caps: 31), Ella Toone (Age: 24 Caps: 47), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Age: 25 Caps: 13), Chloe Kelly (Age: 26 Caps: 40), Beth Mead (Age: 28 Caps: 54), Fran Kirby (Age: 30 Caps: 69), Rachel Daly (Age: 32 Caps: 83), Jessica Park (Age: 22 Caps: 7), Esme Morgan (Age: 23 Caps: 8), Millie Turner (Age: 27 Caps: 1).

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