By Lori Ewing
(Reuters) -Keira Walsh and Beth England, who helped England finish as runners-up at the recent Women’s World Cup, will miss the team’s next two Nations League games due to injury.
Coach Sarina Wiegman otherwise stuck with the bulk of her squad from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with 21 players returning for their Sept. 22 match against Scotland at Sunderland and Sept. 26 game against the Netherlands in Utrecht.
Defender Maya Le Tissier and midfielders Lucy Staniforth and Jess Park round out the 24-player squad while Euro 2022 golden boot winner Beth Mead misses out.
Walsh has a minor calf injury, while Wiegman said England’s injury will need a longer recovery and Mead “still has a while” in her comeback from a serious knee injury.
Wiegman said she was concerned about the health of her players on the heels of the World Cup amid such a condensed schedule. Their first Nations League game will be barely a month since their 1-0 final defeat by Spain. Players reported to their clubs soon after that Aug. 20 showpiece in Sydney.
“Of course you want to perform at the highest level but you want players fresh. With my team, it’s balancing both. Players are not robots, they want to perform, they will always show up,” Wiegman told reporters on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium.
“I am worried about the turnaround and I was already worried about that before the World Cup. We need to get connected with UEFA, FIFA and the federations to deal with this. Some players only had six days off and that’s not good for them. The urgency to solve this is really, really high.”
The Lionesses will also resume negotiations with the FA around World Cup bonuses, among other issues, when they gather next week, and Wiegman said she is confident they “will have a good outcome.”
“The players and the FA didn’t agree before the tournament, they agreed to disagree,” she said. “I am very hopeful, I am very positive. The environment has been very good it just needs more time to get some solutions, the FA and the players are in good communication.”
England are in a group with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scotland in League A with the winners of each group qualifying for the semi-finals in February.
England can qualify Team GB for their third Olympics via the Nations League, after featuring in the 2012 and 2020 Tokyo Games. The two Nations League finalists – plus Olympic hosts France – from the 16-nation tournament clinch berths in the Paris Games.
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Hannah Hampton, Elle Roebuck.
Defenders: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Niamh Charles, Alex Greenwood, Maya Le Tissier; Esme Morgan, Lotte Wubben-Moy
Midfielders: Laura Coombs, Jordan Nobbs, Jess Park, Lucy Staniforth, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Katie Zelem
Forwards: Rachel Daly, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Chloe Kelly, Alessia Russo, Katie Robinson.
(Reporting by Lori EwingEditing by Christian Radnedge)