England are ready to take on France in a friendly fixture in Caen on Friday. The Lionesses will have chance to prepare for their home Euros next year in the two matches scheduled for this current camp. Their meetings with France and Canada will also help interim manager Hege Riise decide who deserves a spot in this summer's Olympics squad.
Along with some usual faces, Riise called upon some young blood to make up the numbers in her team this camp. The likes of Niamh Charles and Lotte Wubben-Moy have earned their spots after seriously impressing for their respective clubs across the last couple of months.
The latter spoke about the Norwegian boss as she looks to bank just her second ever senior cap.
"Hege is an extremely progressive and extremely forward thinking coach which I love," the 22-year-old said. "I feel lucky to be playing under her, she’s got a wealth of experience so that obviously adds to the pedigree of a coach that she is.
"I feel we’re extremely positive as a team under Hege and it’s exciting football that we’re playing."
Riise has drastically changed up the selection process when it comes to calling upon international talent. She recently handed a senior debut to Wubben-Moy, along with fellow youngsters Ella Toone, Ebony Salmon and Sandy MacIver.
"It was amazing," Wubben-Moy said of her Lionesses debut. "I came on probably about 20 minutes after Ella Toone, who I’ve been playing with through the U17 and U15 age groups. So to do it with a fellow youngster like Ella was amazing and I think that’s what epitomises my experience as an England player and the fact that I’m doing it with such amazing young women around the whole country.
"We all come together for this common goal of winning and pushing each other and doing it for our country, which is amazing. That [debut] feeling was probably six, seven years in the making and you dream of it as a kid."
A new generation of Lionesses
Ellie Roebuck is another young player who has earned her place in the England squad. Since filling in for Karen Bardsley at Manchester City during her period of injury, the 21-year-old has blown the nation away with her performances in between the sticks. She is rapidly becoming a fierce contender to be England's permanent No.1, which is competition she is more than prepared to face.
"Naturally the level of competition is going to be high but I think for England in general, the level of competition is always high because of the depth of the squad," Roebuck commented. "If you look at every position pretty much, there’s always a competition for places.
"Us as goalkeepers and young goalkeepers have come up through the system and I think there’s been quite a lot of talk about the quality of goalkeeper coaches."
Indeed, both Roebuck and MacIver are putting pressure on more experienced England goalkeepers, Bardsley and Carly Telford. Friendly fixtures are the perfect chance for Riise to decide who deserves to be bumped up to the starting eleven and who is at risk of being muscled out.
Millie Bright, who missed the previous camp due to injury, said it's a "great opportunity" for younger players to show their worth and get themselves on the radar.
"They’ve got experience behind them, they’re playing in intense games and they’re pushing the group just as much as the senior players are pushing them," she continued.
Olympics on the horizon
With Riise set to spearhead the Team GB football squad in Tokyo, the Lionesses will be relishing the opportunity of being able to train and perform under her leading into the summer. The fight for the very limited spaces on the plane is very much on.
Wubben-Moy highlighted that the England coaches have been "very transparent" on instructing players on what they need to do to up their game ahead of the Olympics selection.
"Fitness levels have got to be heightened, mental resilience… I guess the most important thing is the minutes we're playing and making sure they're quality minutes and taking those opportunities," the Arsenal starlet said.
Similarly, Bright stressed the importance of "ticking all the right boxes" to impress the manager and "remaining with the same mindset that you’ve got a job to do week in, week out."
The first hurdle for the Lionesses will come against France at the Stade Michel d'Ornano on April 9th. They will then return home to host Canada at Stoke City's bet365 Stadium on April 13th.
England will hope to keep their positive run of form going after securing a 6-0 win over Northern Ireland back in February. This new era comes after a struggling period under Phil Neville.
"We’ve got clear objectives for this camp. We’re playing two grade A oppositions and the expectation is that we win. I don’t think we’re looking to dwell too much on the past."News Now - Sport News