Women's Sports: Why was Fran Kirby excluded from the otherwise same old England squad?

Yesterday saw the Lionesses announce their squad ahead of friendlies against Germany and Czech Republic.

There are no notable inclusions, but both Bethany England and Lauren Hemp retain the places having impressed with their respective clubs. 

There is, however, one notable absentee: Fran Kirby.

Having gradually made her way back from injury with Chelsea, the omission has come as a surprise – and looking at the squad there’s no argument that can be made for form over reputation, an all too familiar problem when it comes to England.

GiveMeSport sources have revealed that the Chelsea playmaker was withdrawn from camp by her club after Neville questioned her ‘motivation and desire’ to play for England, ignoring the previously agreed training regime to aid her injury rehab.

But it’s not just Neville’s inability to manage players effectively, his general approach to this England side is what makes it hard to see any success* on the horizon (*trophies other than the SheBelieves Cup).

Same old, same old

Not only do England not have to qualify for the Euros, but they also don’t have to qualify for the Olympics – which begs the question, why aren’t more chances being given to in-form players or up and coming youngsters?

It’s a common occurrence for England and quite frankly is down to not having a manager with the guts to do something different. While Neville wants everyone to believe he’s revolutionary, there’s nothing that actually makes him stand out from any other manager in the world right now.

When he talked of no other manager having the bravery to do what he has done – one can only assume he means consistently call up the same group of players regardless of form and neglect youth and in-form talent.

Whether that be Leah Williamson (who does actually get selected) being their fourth choice CB while simultaneously being the best defender in the league or Sophie Baggaley not even being considered despite being one of, if not the, best keepers in the league. 

There are many arguments in favour of Neville staying on as England manager, insisting he needs to be given more time – but how much longer?

The football is bad, England finished worse in this year’s World Cup compared to 2015 and there seem to be no resolution inconsistent issues throughout his time here.

What else do we possibly need to see before it can be confidently said that he is not qualified enough to be managing this England side?

At some point, we need to have an honest conversation about how the Lionesses grow and how important it will be to have someone who is qualified with experience of working and developing amazing talented footballers like the Lionesses, that can truly bring the girls together, help them build individual identities on the field of play and away from the field of play that the public can grow to love and appreciate. Let’s not get lost in the idea of Neville being the best, he is far from that. The girls deserve so much better than this.   

Fran Kirby’s exclusion from the Lionesses side is a questionable move that we should pay attention to. Chelsea looking out for the welfare of Kirby is the best thing in the world and it is great to see clubs taking an active role in really protecting their players as they have with Fran. 

But hooray for squad togetherness and unity amongst the Lionesses – I don’t know who Neville thinks he is fooling. We are not buying into it because we believe the Lionesses are so much better than what Neville is trying to have us believe.  

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