Hege Riise continues to provide her younger Lionesses with the chance to impress on the international stage. Manchester City defender Esme Morgan received a late call up to the England squad on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming double header against France and Canada.
Riise has already shown she is eager to hand senior experience to the young players. She recently handed debuts to rising stars Sandy MacIver, Ebony Salmon, Ella Toone and Lotte Wubben-Moy. The four featured in England’s 6-0 win over Northern Ireland back in February, with Toone scoring from the penalty spot to make her first appearance and goal.
Now, Morgan will have the chance to earn her first cap as the Lionesses get ready for their first fixture in Caen. The 20-year-old joins the uncapped Niamh Charles in the eager wait for their first ever taste of senior international football.
Speaking ahead of the trip to France, Ellie Roebuck was full of praise for her teammate, who has been putting in the shifts to impress Riise and her backroom staff.
“I’m really happy for her, I think she’s been playing really well recently,” the Man City goalkeeper said. “I thought she put in a great performance in the second leg of the Barcelona game, especially as she wasn’t too happy with her personal performance in the first leg.
“So for me, at such a young age, the resilience to then bounce back, I thought she dominated that game and was so calm and composed.”
Indeed, City were knocked out of the Champions League by a ruthless Barcelona side after a quarter-final aggregate score of 4-2 saw the Catalonians into the next round. Despite falling 3-0 to the Primera Iberdrola leaders, the Citizens put them to the sword in the second leg.
Although they were ejected from the competition, City beat Barca 2-1 in the second leg on home soil. An inspired performance from Gareth Taylor’s side pushed their opposition to their limits as they became the first team this season to beat Barcelona over 90 minutes.
Players like Morgan, Roebuck and fellow youngster Lauren Hemp hugely stood out for Man City across both quarter-final fixtures.
“It’s a big stage, playing in the Champions League,” Roebuck continued. “And I thought she really thrived in that environment and she’s very deserving to be in the squad.”
As a central defender, Morgan will be challenging the likes of Millie Turner and Wubben-Moy for a spot in the England backline. With Steph Houghton absent due to an achilles injury, it’s likely that Riise will deploy a centre-back pairing of Leah Williamson and Millie Bright.
The latter lauded the young talent coming through the England system and believes the upcoming friendlies are a “great opportunity” for players to get experience and show off what they’re capable of.
“The younger players are very mature, most of them are starting [for their clubs] week in, week out,” Bright said. “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.”
Morgan has made 27 youth appearances for England, and will be looking to get in on the action against France on Friday and Canada the following week on April 13th in Stoke.