The Euro’s are fast approaching, and with this, so does the anticipation surrounding the host nation, England.
This summer’s European Championships will be only the second tournament England have played since Sarina Wiegman took charge last September. The first being the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup that took place earlier this year, in which England rose as victorious winners.
Former Dutch midfielder Wiegman has not only brought a wealth of playing experience to camp, but also a positive international managerial record, having led the Netherlands to their first European victory in 2017.
Wiegman has injected new life into a previously wilting English side. She has set standards, raised expectations and moulded the Lionesses into a well-functioning unified collective.
Since Wiegman’s appointment the Lionesses have not lost a single match, they simply could not have set themselves up in better stead for the main event after remaining undefeated in their last eleven games.
So, without further ado, here are our 23 Lionesses bidding to bring the trophy home this summer.
Mary Earps – No. 1
Manchester United’s number one has now asserted herself as Wiegman’s first choice between the sticks after being absent from the international stage for a couple of years. Earps is a goalkeeper who does her homework, she is evidently well prepared against individual opponents and knows exactly when to put her game face on. The 28-year-old is a capable shot-stopper and is unafraid to step out and take defensive work into her own hands.
Known to be vocal, Earps ensures she is in constant communication with those around her. Her direct nature allows her to articulate exactly what she expects of her defensive line, which is critical when defending set-pieces. Earps also demonstrates accuracy with passing and is comfortable to sit between centre-backs to allow fullbacks to stretch the pitch when playing out from the back.
Hannah Hampton – No.13
Aston Villa’s Hannah Hampton may have the fewest number of caps under her belt, but she is arguably the most multifaceted of England’s three goalkeepers. The 20-year-old uses her feet as much as she uses her hands, often actively participating in build-up play, entering the fray almost as an auxiliary outfield player.
Whilst Hampton is still a developing outright shot-stopper, she is a dab hand at cutting out crosses and demonstrates intelligence and accuracy with her distribution. Domestically, Hampton achieved a favourable 69.2% save percentage this season. This figure is just shy of 10% lower than the league leader, however it remains impressive when considering this was accomplished without a row of international defenders in front of her.
Ellie Roebuck – No. 21
She may only be 22, but Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck has long been on the scene, having made her senior debut back in 2018. Roebuck was a regular feature for England throughout the youth age groups and has a growing amount of international experience to her name. She is also the only goalkeeper selected to have played in last year’s Olympic Games, in which she donned the gloves as Team GB’s number one.
Despite being out for part of the season with injury, Roebuck returned as sharp as ever. Of the ten league games she played, the youngster let only three goals slip past, alluding to her perceptive and quick movement. Roebuck is perhaps the most agile of Wiegman’s keepers, using her quick footwork and sudden shifts of weight to execute effective body position. Roebuck is also known for her ‘sweeper’ abilities and is aware enough to come some way off her line to tidy up without compromising readiness to protect the goal.
Lucy Bronze – No.2
Lucy Bronze has arguably been England’s most important fullback over recent years, and even more so, their most versatile fullback tactically. An inverted right-back, she is one of England’s primary sources of build-up, interchanging in position with the right-winger with the ability to keep her width. Bronze’s crossing skills and spatial awareness are difference makers and give England a spirited drive along the right touchline.
The 30-year-old is also known for her tendency to drift into the midfield to create overloads in the middle. As a progressive fullback, Bronze likes to carry the ball high up the pitch with a habit of cutting in centrally and decoying opponents when the space is afforded. Bronze’s role in both defence and in attack cannot be understated.
Millie Bright – No. 6
No-nonsense centre-back Millie Bright is possibly England’s most ‘traditional’ defender. The 28-year-old is a staple figure in the Lionesses line-up and has been named as vice-captain after displaying desirable leadership qualities across the previous few seasons with Chelsea.
Bright is assertive and aggressive and uses her physicality, as much as her feet, to escort attacking threats away from goal. Usually the last woman standing, Bright is unafraid to put her body on the line to block or intercept in timely fashion. Bright has a keen eye for a cross ball and her launched passes often act as catalysts for attacking phases of play further up field. Standing at 5ft 9, Bright also provides a serious aerial threat at set-pieces. Further than this, Bright boasts a killer strike and has been known to hit the target from distance.
Jess Carter – No.12
Chelsea’s Jess Carter is a relatively new addition to the national squad after being out of the fold for the last few years. However, the 24-year-old has broken out once again with an outstanding season in Chelsea blue and has rightly caught the eye of Wiegman.
Carter is a well-rounded and functional defender who is able to slot in anywhere across the backline. One-v-one situations and man marking is where Carter truly excels, demonstrating her insightful timing. Carter is intuitively defensively minded and offers the Lionesses a stable marshal allowing her fellow defenders to progress and support in attack.
Rachel Daly – No.3
Houston Dash captain Rachel Daly is an experienced and adaptable player with a unique skillset. When playing domestically, Daly occupies the centre forward role and is currently the Dash’s all time top scorer. Her forward role is that of a deep-lying striker who excels in linking play, playing in other attacking players, and creating interchangeable sequences of play.
Internationally, however, Daly is usually situated further back, primarily featuring for England as a left-back. Here, Daly utilises her strikers’ tendencies and pairs them with the defensive qualities developed as a result of her slightly unusual placement. Daly’s ‘off the ball’ traits are under appreciated at times, but her pressing and positional awareness are key in bringing a balance to England’s backline.
Alex Greenwood – No. 5
For the majority of her career, Greenwood played as a left-back, however over the past two seasons Greenwood has converted into a left-sided centre-back. Adapting to this role remarkably well, Greenwood has developed a heightened defensive acumen and is reliable in putting in play breaking challenges.
Greenwood brings a finesse to England’s backline offering a favourable counterbalance to Millie Bright’s more physical approach. Greenwood is tidy and rarely takes rash action, however her biggest strength undoubtedly lies in her technical skill. With a weapon of a left foot, Greenwood is able to find teammates across the pitch with a single impeccable pass. Due to this gift of precision, Greenwood also acts as England’s principle set-piece taker.
Demi Stokes – No.15
Manchester City’s Demi Stokes has been a regular feature for the Lionesses for a number of years, racking up over 65 caps for her country so far. The 30-year-old is a slightly more defensively inclined fullback than right-sided counterpart Lucy Bronze. This is beneficial in offering England cover when facing high pressing and counterattacking teams.
Stokes is savvy with her forward runs, timing the overlap with the winger without detriment to the space behind her. Keeping width is a key aspect of Stokes’ game and her residence is key in stretching the lines of play. Stokes is also a notable willing runner and will fight tooth and nail to retrieve a loose ball or recover lost possession.
Lotte Wubben-Moy – No. 22
Arsenal centre-back Lotte Wubben-Moy continues to gain senior international experience after representing the Lionesses at U15, U17, U20 and U21 levels. Much like Millie Bright, Wubben-Moy offers a testing physical presence at the back and uses her height, fitness and strength to deny strikers scoring opportunities.
At 23, Wubben-Moy is England’s youngest trade defender, however the North London native plays with maturity and demonstrates sensible judgement. Aside from being a dependable central defender, Wubben-Moy is also developing into a skilled ball player. She typically likes to dribble toward the half way line before releasing passes through the central channels, by doing so, encouraging positive forward movement from those around her.
Fran Kirby – No. 14
A fit and match-ready Fran Kirby is always a tremendous boost. After taking a break and missing part of the season due to severe fatigue, the Chelsea attacker has worked her way back to fitness and onto Wiegman’s roster. An experienced international, Kirby knows how to handle the pressures tournament football can throw up and is well known for sprinkling moments of magic along the way.
A diminutive and lively attacking player, Kirby is hard to keep hold of, finding space between lines to propel fast-moving transitions. While Kirby typically plays on the right side of the forward line for Chelsea, it is likely she will adopt an attacking midfield role for England due to her ability to seamlessly roam between central and wide channels. Kirby acts as a decoy and has a knack for knowingly drawing in defenders to open up space for others. She will outwit, outfox and outplay at every twist and turn.
Ella Toone – No. 20
Manchester United’s creative dynamo has certainly impressed Wiegman and has been a mainstay in her reign so far. The 22-year-old is a fantastically innovative number 10 who is able to find creative ways to thread key passes that often lead to shot and goal creation. Toone openly invites tight pressure and enjoys using her ‘tricky feet’ to weave her way through defensive lines, ball-in-tow. This affords others the time and space to take up advanced and threatening positions.
Not just a prolific assistant, Toone is also a respectable goal scorer having already netted two hat-tricks for England this year. Toone will certainly offer an essential dose of creativity against sides who prefer to sit back in a low block.
Keira Walsh – No. 4
Deep lying midfielder Keira Walsh is the Lionesses’ linchpin. She is, quite simply, the key that unlocks the very best of England’s potential. Walsh demonstrates remarkable vision and makes good on this ability to forward think with her diverse passing range. The 25-year-old is able to spray passes any which way across the pitch with acute accuracy, and routinely spots the key space and off-the-shoulder runs that others tend to miss.
Although she may not be the most physical defensive midfielder, Walsh shows capability in dispossessing at crucial moments and adds a layer of protection ahead of the backline with her intelligent positioning. It is not an overstatement to say that Walsh occupies the Lionesses’ most organic ‘footballing brain’. She is a truly gifted midfielder.
Jill Scott – No.16
With over 150 international caps, nine major tournaments and 26 goals to her name, Jill Scott really hasn’t left any stone unturned. An established box-to-box midfielder, Scott is well versed in doing the dirty work, keeping an intense press fixed on opponents when they are both on and off the ball.
Scott boasts incredible fitness levels and is able to comfortably keep up and present a hardy challenge to younger oppositions. With a direct approach to the game, Scott’s actions out of possession sometimes fall under the radar but they are nevertheless crucial to England’s progression. She may not bring the same frills and skills of more ‘inventive’ midfielders, but what Scott does always offer, is a job well done.
Georgia Stanway – No. 10
Bayern Munich’s new signing is spirited and gutsy. Stanway is an aggressor, and to describe her as anything less would be inimical of the passion she exudes. Stanway is a versatile and positionally disciplined player having played stints as a right-back, a holding midfielder and a forward. However, perhaps Stanway’s most natural role falls as a number 10, bridging the defensive lines of midfield to the forward troupe.
Stanway is a significant attacking facet for England with an ability to facilitate successful and consistent passes and carries into the penalty area. Yet, she is also a considerable defensive asset who is particularly knowing of the importance of defensive unity across the whole pitch. At just 23, Stanway is already affluent in international experience with over 30 senior caps and eight goals for her country.
Leah Williamson – No. 8
Arsenal centre-back and newly named Lionesses captain Leah Williamson may well take up a different role to her usual domestic placement. Due to her progressive nature and exceptional ball-playing skill, Williamson could assume a variation of the number 6 role, pairing up with Keira Walsh in a double pivot. However, she is also able to slip back into her trade centre-back role at the drop of a hat, further gifting England with a number of potentially fluid formation options.
Williamson is decisive and rational; a player who is largely purposeful with every touch. The 25-year-old harbours quality passing abilities, so much so in fact, that she could easily be regarded as one of the best in the world at filtering progressive passes from back to front. The benefits of having Williamson on the field are endless; from leadership and tact, to playmaking and quality possession.
Bethany England – No. 19
Chelsea’s Bethany England is an out-and-out number 9. England ensures she is where she needs to be to get on the end of incoming through balls, passes and crosses. She is knowing in her movements and whether the ball reach her on the ground or in the air, England works tirelessly to be readily available to complete the exchange.
Internationally, the 28-year-old has been nothing but patient, determinedly chipping away to improve her game in order to catch the eye of the national side. England eventually made her senior debut in 2019 and has gone on to tally an impressive nine goals in 19 appearances, signifying, not only a composed finish, but an intelligence in anticipating the key points of attacking play.
Lauren Hemp – No. 11
Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp is the Lionesses’ ‘not so secret’ weapon. The left-sided winger is unfathomably quick and uses her pace to propel England’s transitional play. Hemp is an absolute headache of a forward for defenders, relentlessly darting through oppositions and shattering lines with ease. Whether an opponent or a viewer, you simply cannot switch off when Hemp is on the ball.
Hemp is charismatic, bold, and at times, audacious, and due to this magnetism, she is often sought out by the Lionesses deep ball playing contingent as their initiating attacker. She is also a fine crosser of the ball which suits England’s typical 4-3-3 system down to the ground. At just 21, Hemp is only in the beginnings of her career, yet she already approaches matches with a confidence that will only lead to extraordinary things.
Nikita Parris – No. 17
Arsenal’s Nikita Parris is no stranger to an international tournament, having made over 60 appearances in an England shirt. The 28-year-old is able to play along either wing, offering England different possibilities upfront depending on the gameplan of their varied oppositions.
A definitive workhorse, Parris delivers constant movement to distract and disorientate. Whilst she is a natural forward, Parris is excellent at implementing pressing actions that cut off supply to teams playing out from the back. She is also, perhaps, the most inclined to track back and reclaim possession of all of England’s forwards.
Alessia Russo – No. 23
The integration of Alessia Russo into a regular face on game days is proving to be increasingly beneficial. The Manchester United striker gives the Lionesses’ forward line something altogether compelling; a buoyant point of reference to target.
Russo is adaptable and has experience in playing out wide, however she is most effective when stationed in the centre as a number 9. Using her physicality, Russo likes to put the pressure on and strongly contest for the ball, thus causing her to have quite the presence in the area. Russo is a capable dribbler, and is also a willing runner, which leaves England in good stead when using quick transitions. Finally, Russo is extremely good in the air adding a further element to her layered abilities.
Chloe Kelly – No. 18
The return of Chloe Kelly has given the Lionesses yet another dynamic option along the wing. The Manchester City forward, who has recently recovered from an ACL injury, offers an alternative profile to that of fellow wingers Beth Mead and Nikita Parris.
Kelly is possibly best described as a ‘traditional winger’. Usually situated on the right, Kelly prefers to keep her width but is equally capable of drifting into the interior channels as an inside-forward. The 24-year-old boasts a devastating crossing ability and her pace is complementary to that of left-sided colleague Lauren Hemp.
Beth Mead – No. 7
Beth Mead has arguably played her best season to date with domestic club Arsenal, having racked up eight assists and 11 goals this term. The energetic winger likes to cut inside in possession and divert into the narrower lanes of play. By doing this, Mead draws in wide opponents as well as occupying a central defender, allowing the fullback to overlap and take advantage of the now open space on the wing whilst affording the central striker the opportunity to move beyond their marker.
Mead is a highly valuable assistant and it is her quick releasing of the ball that further permits this. With a quick lift of the head, Mead is able to pick out and execute an optimal pass. Aside from this, Mead herself is pretty deadly in the area having potted a colossal 12 goals in Wiegman’s first ten games at the helm.
Ellen White – No.9
Tried and tested, seasoned striker Ellen White knows exactly what to do in an England shirt. White has enjoyed a number of milestone occasions with the Lionesses, including reaching 100 caps and making history as the first female player to score 50 goals for the country. White is second only to Wayne Rooney’s 53 goals on England’s all-time record goalscorer list.
A classic centre forward, White excels close to the goal and exudes an innate poacher’s instinct. She likes to peel off the shoulder of the defender to sink the ball past the keeper whilst being up close and personal. The 33-year-old is a notable runner and she is prepared to pull back and offer support in times of collective defending or when her required service is not being provided. White brings quality and expertise and that cannot be understated.