Football

European Championship: Leah Williamson Set To Start For England After Year-Long Absence

Tuesday’s game will be Williamson’s first for the Lionesses since a friendly against Australia last April and Wiegman highlighted the 27-year-old’s strengths

(Jacob King/PA)
Tuesday’s game will be Leah Williamson’s first for the Lionesses since a friendly against Australia last April. Photo: (Jacob King/PA)
info_icon

Sarina Wiegman confirmed that Leah Williamson will start for England in their European Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland. (More Football News)

The Arsenal defender is set to make her Lionesses comeback after nearly a year out following an ACL injury.

Williamson made the bench for England’s 1-1 draw against Sweden in Group A3 on Friday, but when asked if she would be starting against Ireland in a pre-match press conference, head coach Wiegman replied: “Yep.”

Tuesday’s game will be Williamson’s first for the Lionesses since a friendly against Australia last April and Wiegman highlighted the 27-year-old’s strengths.

info_icon

“We’ve had hard choices to make in the team because I think the competitiveness is really high and we have many options in different positions,” she said.

“I think what Leah brings us is vision, in possession she’s just very bright and finds the right pass.

“The flexibility, the defence, being able to defend the space behind her together with everyone else, because defending doesn’t just start with one player, it starts with the team, and I hope Leah will bring that to the team tomorrow.”

Williamson’s England return was slightly delayed after she was forced to withdraw from the squad in February for friendly matches due to a hamstring strain, but she admitted her aim was to be “good enough” to return to the team.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the girls, I’ve enjoyed being part of that journey in a different way, obviously I’ve got people that play for the team who are very important to me,” Williamson said.

“It’s been a difficult journey, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the thing I’d had my focus on, this is where I wanted to get back to. I wanted to be good enough to get back into this squad, I’ve had some of the best memories of my life as part of this team.”

England began their qualifying campaign with a draw against Sweden after Fridolina Rolfo cancelled out Alessia Russo’s opener.

Ireland were narrowly beaten 1-0 by France in their opener on Thursday and Wiegman is determined not to underestimate them at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

“They were promoted to this group and I think don’t underestimate anyone, especially not Ireland,” she said.

“They’ve had a 1-0 result against France, that was really good. What we expect is they are a physical team and are very well-organised, so they can play the counter attack.

“You can try to take that opportunity and moments that they will probably jump and press out, so we have to be aware of that. We’re definitely going to think that’s hard to break down their defence.”

Williamson is also expecting a “disciplined” performance from Ireland, who are led by Arsenal team-mate Katie McCabe.

“I’m expecting them to be really disciplined in the way they defend, we saw a 1-0 result against France so I think it’s going to be a test for us to move the ball and move them, I see those battles,” Williamson added.

“Obviously they’ve got key players up top but also a strong defensive line as well, I know all those girls really well so it’s going to be a good one.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement