Category Archives: England

White Scores HAT-trick As England Secure Thumping Friendly Win over Northern Ireland

Ellen White stole the show as England triumphed 6-0 over Northern Ireland in their first fixture of the year at St George’s Park earlier today. 

Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly and debutant Ella Toone also got on the scoresheet as interim boss Hege Riise got her tenure underway with a comfortable victory. 

The Lionesses dominated the encounter from start to finish, with Kenny Shiels’ side struggling to get out of their own half for large periods of the game. They will also be grateful to goalkeeper Becky Flaherty for keeping the scoring in single digits. 

Riise raised a few eyebrows with her first starting line up, as Chloe Kelly was only named on the bench. Houston Dash’s Rachel Daly was afforded a start on the wing with Georgia Stanway and Jordan Nobbs joining Jill Scott in the centre of the park. The on loan Everton midfielder was given the captain’s armband on her 150th appearance for England. 

Keira Walsh pulled out of the squad late yesterday after a thigh injury and will now be assessed by Man City. 

Kenny Shiels gave Birmingham full back Rebecca Holloway her first cap, with striker Simone Magill, as expected, coming back into the side after injury to lead the line. A late injury to Jackie Burns also saw Sheffield United goalkeeper Beckie Flaherty starting in goal. 

With the Olympics coming up in the summer and the vast majority of the squad being made up of English players, the Lionnesses intent to stake their claim to be on the plane to Tokyo was clear from the off. 

They hassled and hurried the Northern Irish defence and had a number of chances before the eventually broke the deadlock on 18 minutes. 

Man City striker White met Daly’s cross with just three minutes of the contest gone, but couldn’t direct her header on target.  The 31-year old had another opportunity moments later when Scott slipped her through, but she was denied by Flaherty, before the goalkeeper reacted well to save from Nobbs on the follow up. 

England could have been three goals to the good inside the first ten minutes were it not for Flaherty, who pulled off another good save to prevent Bronze’s header from finding the top right hand corner.

Shiels will be disappointed in the manner in which Northern Ireland conceded the opener. White capitalising on a misplaced pass from McCarron, intercepting the ball  before driving into the area and firing a effort into the far corner.

That goal opened the flood gates, and Riise’s side got two more in quick succession. On 23 minutes, Bronze burst down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for White, who glanced a header into the net for her and England’s second.

Their third game just five minutes later, again from a good cross into the box which Northern Ireland struggled to deal with. This time it was Hemp on the opposite flank putting in a tantalising delivery which Bronze at the back post slid into to tap home. 

The Lionesses’ were hungry for more and had one more clear cut chance late in the half to further extend their lead. Jordan Nobbs swung in a free kick to the near post, and the unmarked Hemp got on the end of it, but her header went wide.

Riise opted to make one change at the break, with Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone making her international bow in place of Jordan Nobbs. 

England continued to dominate the early proceedings of the second period as White’s spurned a glorious opportunity for her hat-trick. Toone was involved almost immediately, finding White in the box, who lifted the ball over the onrushing Flaherty, but off-target. 

She didn’t have to wait for her third for long however, with the hat-trick goal coming just two minutes later on 49 minutes. Scott threaded the ball through to the striker and she did the rest, wriggling past Nelson and rifling the ball into the top corner for her 39th England goal.

She had the ball in the back of the net for a fourth time just after the hour mark, by which time Everton keeper Sandy MacIver, had come on for her debut in place of Roebuck, but the goal was ruled out for offside. The former Birmingham forward had just strayed beyond Nelson before latching onto Kelly’s cross. 

England got their fifth not long after however, with Rachel Daly, who was a thorn in Northern Ireland’s side all game, sweeping home from close range after Bronze had surged down the right and put it on a plate for her.

They almost had a sixth on 72 minutes after a well worked short corner routine presented Kelly with a chance to strike from distance. The Man City winger tried to bend her effort into the far corner but it whistled wide of the far post. 

The final goal of the day came with just fifteen minutes of the game remaining. Kelly, who looked lively when she came off the bench, went down under a challenge from Holloway and the referee pointed to the spot.

Up stepped young Toone, who coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, sending Flaherty the wrong way to complete the route and net her first international goal on her first appearance.

Debuts then followed for Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy and Bristol City’s Ebony Salmon as England saw out the game, with Northern Ireland failing to register a single shot on target on a difficult afternoon for Shiels side. 

Speaking post match, the former Derry City manager told the BBC:

“There were some positives and some negatives. England are stronger and quicker than us and that was a big obstacle for us to overcome,

“We made three uncharacteristic mistakes for the three goals and I wish we could have been a bit more competitive,” he concluded. 

Opposition number Riise was delighted with England’s performance in her first game in charge:

“Obviously I’m pleased with six goals, four players getting their first cap and that we pushed for 90 minutes and wanted more goals. We tried to find the pockets in between, run at them and I think we showed character” stated the former Norwegian international.

She continued, “We probably could’ve scored more goals but the performance and energy that we put into the game was good.”

Northern Ireland now have to regroup ahead of their historic Euro 2022 two legged play off game, and they will discover their opponents of that tie next month.

As for the Lionesses, they will take on Canada in April as the squad gear up for the rescheduled Olympic Games.

England Vs Northern Ireland Preview: Lionesses Aiming for First Win Under Riise’s Reign

England are in action for the first time in almost a year tomorrow in their first game under new boss Hege Riise, as they take on Northern Ireland in a friendly at St George’s Park. 

It is the first of a double header of games for Riise and her squad in the upcoming months, as they attempt to build some momentum ahead of the rescheduled European Championships, which will take place on home soil next year. 

They face Canada on 13th April in their second fixture announced by the FA, with many players hoping to impress in these two fixtures and make the Team GB squad for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo 

Tomorrow’s game will be the first meeting between the two nations since 2008, when the Lionesses triumphed 2-0 during a European Championship qualifier at Mourneview Park.

Much has changed since then, especially for the Green and White Army, who have enjoyed an upturn in form under former Derry City boss Kenny Shiels, winning their last four Euro 2022 qualifying games to secure their passage to the two legged play off games in April. 

The exhibition game is as beneficial to Northern Ireland as it is England, as it forms part of their preparation for the crunch two legged tie. It is their sole fixture before the historic games, which will take place in less than two months time.  

England, who are ranked sixth in the world and 43 places above their opponents, have not played since they were defeated 1-0 by Spain in March of last year. 

Riise has stuck with the majority of the squad who played in what turned out to be Phil Neville’s last game in charge before taking up a role as Inter Miami manager, naming ten Manchester City players in her twenty-one strong panel.

One of the stalwarts included is on loan Everton midfielder Jill Scott, who is in line to make her 150th appearances for the Lionesses at St George’s Park tomorrow. 

Demi Stokes is injured along Chelsea duo Millie Bright and Fran Kirby who both withdrew from the squad at the weekend and were replaced by Manchester United defender Millie Turner and Arsenal winger Beth Mead, who had narrowly missed out in the initial squad announcement. 

Nikita Parris is another notable absentee. The Lyon forward is unable to join up with the team due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Toni Duggan, who now features for Athletico Madrid, is another who misses out on selection. 

Young Bristol City forward Ebony Salmon, who only turned 20 in January, receives her first call up along with other uncapped players such as Birmingham goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, Everton shot stopper Sandy MacIver, Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy and Manchester United forward Ella Toone.

Man City’s Ellie Roebuck seems the most likely of England’s inexperienced goalkeepers to get the nod to start in goal. 

Captain Steph Houghton will be partnered by Arsenal centre back Leah Williamson, whilst FIFA Best Winner Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly will line up at left and right back respectively. 

Jordan Nobbs and Jill Scott should feature in the centre of the park and will be flanked by Chloe Kelly and Georgia Stanway on the wings. Bethany England and Ellen White should start up front. 

Riise gave her inaugural press conference ahead of the game, expressing her satisfaction with how the training camp before the game has gone so far:

“We are delighted to have a fixture against Northern Ireland, to prepare ourselves for this week and I have been very impressed by the spirit and determination I have witnessed from our players in camp so far.”

Kenny Shiels is missing a number of influential members of his team and so again has opted to name quite a youthful squad, with seven changes from their last outing against Faroe Islands in December. 

The stand out call up is for 16 year-old defender Ella Haughey. The Lisburn Rangers full back had been training with the senior side on a trail basis before receiving the call that she would feature in the squad for the game. 

The teenager this week cited Lucy Bronze as one of her idols growing up and told the BBC that:

“It’s hard to put into words how much the call up means to me”.

She joins Crusaders goalkeeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford as the only other uncapped member of the squad, coming in for Forfar Farmington goalkeeper Lauren Perry. 

There are recalls for Linfield duo Casey Howe and Rebecca McKenna, as well as Birmingham’s Rebecca Halloway and former Hearts midfielder Louise McDaniel. 

Demi Vance is out with a knee injury whilst sisters Caitlin and Kirsty McGuiness are unavailable for selection.

In a huge boost for Shiels, star striker Simone Magill has recovered from her injury and is included in the travelling squad. She is part of the experienced spine which Northern Ireland have, which includes the likes of centre backs Ashley Hutton and Julie Nelson as well as midfield trio Rachel Furness, Sarah McFadden and Marissa Callaghan. 

Given how well their 4-3-3 formation served them in the thrashing of the Faroe Islands, Shiels is likely to stick with his tried and tested methods. 

Burns is a nailed on starter in goal and will have experienced duo Hutton and Nelson at centre back, with Halloway and Caldwell completing the back four.

In front of them, Northern Ireland will likely line up with a midfield three of McFadden McClaron and Furness, the latter two being some of the Green and White Army’s more creative players. 

Magill should slot back into the side and lead the line with Wade and Wilson lining up on the flanks.

Ahead of the mouthwatering encounter Shiels was realistic in his assessment of the task ahead of Northern Ireland, but was keen to stress that whatever the result, it will be a great learning curve for his side:

“When we leave England after the match I will know straight away what we learnt from the game,

“The result will not be indicative of what we are looking to achieve. As long as the girls get better collectively then we will get better as a team, and it is inevitable that results will follow.”

The game kicks off at 12:30pm tomorrow and is available on the BBC iPlayer and website. 

Bamford Chalks Up Century of Career Goals

Should the Leeds United striker be an outside shout for the England Squad?

Patrick Bamford netted his 100th goal of his career on Monday night as Leeds eased to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Elland Road. The 27 year old is enjoying life back in the top flight along with his teammates, with that victory taking Marcelo Bielsa’s side up to 10th in the table.

Despite doubts surrounding whether Bamford could cut it in the Premier League, after previous failed stints in the top flight, where he endured barren spells at Palace, Norwich and Burnley, he’s hit the ground running on Leeds’ return to the big time after a 16 year absence and is starting to gain the plaudits he deserves.

Often playing as a lone striker, Bamford is already in double figures for goals so far with a tally of 12 strikes in 22 Premier League appearances. In his current vein of form, Bamford is on course to match and maybe even eclipse his impressive 16 goal haul from last year, a figure which was crucial in helping to lift Leeds to the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League.

It’s not just Bamford’s goals which have drawn praise from various sections of the media, but his all round game. Whilst he may not be the most prolific, with his feeble attempt at dinking the ball over Vicente Guaita in the first half on Monday sailing well off target a clear example of this, he does well holding the ball up as a lone striker and bringing others into play as well as creating chances for his teammates.

His decision to unselfishly square the ball to Jack Harrison to allow him to tap into an empty net in Leeds’ recent win over Leicester was the striker’s sixth assist of the season and shows he is very much a team player.

He leads Leeds’ press and works tirelessly for the cause, with his direct running into the channels, great strength despite his seemingly slender stature and his aerial threat, some other key attributes.

His dozen strikes so far places him as the third highest scoring Englishman in the league this campaign, with only Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ahead of him by a single goal.

Whilst those two, (barring injury), are nailed on inclusions for Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the European Championships scheduled to take place this summer, the third space reserved on the plane for a striker is seemingly still up for grabs, and the uncapped Bamford should be worth mentioning.

The forward is not ruling out a first senior call up for World Cup qualifiers in March, ahead of the Euro tournament which kicks off in June, although was coy on his prospects of it coming in the next few months, telling Sky Sports after Monday’s game, “If you had said that at the start of the season I would’ve brushed it off and said ‘you’re mad’, but now people are talking about it.

“We have four or five strikers that have not been involved in the England squad many times and they are doing well so it will be interesting to see who gets called up.”

Rumours of the Nottingham born striker earning a first England call up does seem ‘mad’ when one remembers that Bamford was on the cusp of switching international allegiances and declaring for the Republic of Ireland just 18 months ago.

Then Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was so confident that Bamford, who qualifies to play for the Boys in Green through his grandmother and who played one game for Ireland’s U18s in 2010, would make the switch, he told the the Irish Independent in March 2019:

“I asked him the question ‘Do you still want to join us?’ – ‘Yes’ was the answer. I’m hoping to meet him. I haven’t given up on it at all.”

Bamford ended up snubbing a call up from McCarthy for Ireland’s games later in June that year to focus on Leeds and whilst he stated he, “hasn’t closed any doors” he recently reiterated his desire to represent England in an interview for Talksport, saying it would “be a dream come true” to play for the Three Lions.

Bamford has played for England at U18, U19 and U21 level, with his last cap for the Young Lions coming in 2014. He has never been in consideration for the Three Lions senior squad, until now.

At 27, there is no doubt he is a late bloomer, but the same can be said for two of his rivals Danny Ings and Callum Wilson who are both 28. Those two strikers, along with Tammy Abraham and Bamford, appear to be the four players battling it out for the final forward spot in the squad, if Southgate does opt to bring three strikers. Based on selection from previous tournaments, it seems that this will be the case.

For the 2018 World Cup Southgate chose three out and out strikers (Kane, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck) as well as two versatile wide forward players in Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Again barring injury, Rashford and Sterling are automatic picks for Southgate given their respective forms for both Manchester clubs this season, leaving one more space for a goal hungry striker.

Of the aforementioned quartet only Bamford (12) and Wilson (10) have hit double figures for goals so far this term. Ings has seven goals and three assists whilst Abraham has six goals and two assists.

Bamford, along with Abraham also boasts the best injury record out of the four. He hasn’t suffered any injury problems in the last two seasons, whilst Abraham has avoided any major absences so far this campaign.

Ings’ injury woes have been well documented. He has remained fit for the majority of the current campaign but did sustain a hamstring injury in December, which saw him miss a number of Southampton’s festive fixtures.

Wilson has similarly suffered a succession of serious injuries like Ings, but had been firing on all cylinders for Newcastle until recently when he limped off against Ings’ side Southampton on Saturday with a hamstring tear.

He has been dealt a sickening blow after the club confirmed he will be ruled out for 6-8 weeks and Wilson now faces a race to build up full fitness ahead of England’s first group game with Scotland on 18th June.

Bamford is the least experienced striker and the only one not to have won an England cap with Ings having 13 caps and Wilson and Abraham amassing four each. It was the Chelsea striker who got the nod and was named in Southgate’s last England squad in November at the expense of the other three.

Abraham has struggled recently under new boss Thomas Tuchel and although Southgate seems to be a fan of his, on current form he doesn’t merit an inclusion. With Wilson, it will be a case of whether he can prove he is up to full fitness and can last the duration of such an intense tournament when he makes his return to action.

Mason Greenwood is another left wing shout who could be included. His form has fluctuated this campaign after his breakout half season last year, and Southgate may wait until after the Euros before trying to integrate him fully into the senior set up.

It therefore seems like it will be a straight shootout between Ings or Bamford for a place on the plane. Ings may just edge the individual battle, if he can keep fit, as he is viewed as the better striker all round, particularly when it comes to his expert finishing ability and given he has been in and around the England set up before.

Bamford at least deserves a call up to the squad ahead of March’s World Cup qualifiers to give Southgate the chance to assess him up close in training and maybe even in games before making his final decision for the Euro squad.

It’s a nice conundrum for Southgate to have and his inclusion in discussion for selection for England caps quite the rise for Bamford, who just last year, was deemed not good enough to lead the line for Leeds in the Championship.

Now he’s scoring goals for fun in the Premier League and could be afforded the chance to make his mark on the international stage very soon.

Lionesses appoint Hege Riise as Short-Term Head Coach

The England Lionesses have appointed the former Norwegian midfielder Hege Riise as a short-term head coach following the sudden departure of Phil Neville to Inter Miami in the MLS.

Riise will step into the role from February of this month to lead the upcoming training camp supported by ex-Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson. 

During her distinguished playing career, Riise was an Olympic, World Cup and European Championship winner and scored 58 goals in 188 internationals.

The 1995 world player of the year has since gone on to have an impressive coaching career too, having managed to steer Norwegian side LSK Kvinner to six consecutive league titles.  She has also previously been the assistant coach to the all-conquering USA Women’s side, which won Olympic Gold in 2012.  

Speaking about her Lionesses appointment, Riise said: 

“I’m excited about the opportunity I’ve been given to work with England Women. This is a proud and ambitious team that I look forward to working with and I am confident of making a positive impact when I meet up with the squad in February.”

The Director of England Women’s football Sue Campbell, meanwhile, added:

“I am delighted to welcome Hege Riise and Rhian Wilkinson to the England coaching team, having had positive discussions with them in recent weeks.  

“They bring significant international experience and will help guide our players before the arrival of Sarina Wiegman as our new head coach to lead us into the home EURO in 2022. Once February is complete, we will sit down and assess the Lionesses situation and consider next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home nations and the British Olympic Association.”

Riise could be in the frame to take on the Team GB job too as that role has also been vacated following Neville’s departure, but it is understood that her primary focus will be working with England.  

This appointment will also have no affect on the incoming Dutch coach Weigman, who is due to take the helm of the Lionesses from September 2021

Phil Neville leaves Lionesses to join Inter Miami

England Women’s head coach Phil Neville has left to succeed Diego Alonso at MLS club Inter Miami.

The former Everton and England defender is set to leave his post as Lionesses’ head coach, (which he has held since 2018), with immediate effect.

At 43, Neville already had a vast amount of coaching experience under his belt, working with the England’s U21 side, taking a coaching role at Manchester United and the assistant manager position at Valencia, before landing the England Women’s job.

During his time in charge, he led the Lionesses to glory in the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in 2019 as well as a fourth place finish at the World Cup in the same year, where they were narrowly eliminated by eventual winners USA in the semi final.

Despite a promising first eighteen months at the helm, the team’s form tailed off after that impressive tournament. They failed to retain their SheBelieves Cup crown last year and have lost seven of their eleven games since, their worst run since 2003 which placed mounting pressure on Neville to resign.

In April of last year Neville announced he planned to leave his position as manager when his contract expires in July 2021 after the 2021 Euro tournament was postponed to 2022 as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Neville agreed to step down from England duties almost nine months ago now, but was still in line to oversee Team GB at this year’s rescheduled summer Olympics in Tokyo before allowing Holland head coach Sarina Wiegman to take over the England role permanently in September.

Taking the Inter Miami job would obviously rule him out of contention for leading Team GB at the Olympics, with the FA already looking to appointing a caretaker manager to do so.

Inter Miami, who are part owned by Neville’s former teammate David Beckham, finished 10th in the Eastern Conference in their inaugural season, winning seven, drawing three and losing thirteen of their games.

They earned a spot in the MLS playoffs, becoming only the seventh franchise to do so in their first season, but were defeated 3-0 by Nashville, in what proved to be Alonso’s last game in charge.

Neville will be tasked of getting the best out of Miami’s marquee signings, mainly World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi, Argentine Gonzalo Higuaín, who registered just one goal last season and former Celtic player Lewis Morgan who was a huge success story last campaign.