England will round off their international camp on Tuesday as they host Canada at Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium. The Lionesses enter the fixture off the back of a 3-1 defeat to France in their previous friendly in Caen.
Speaking in her pre-match conference ahead of their home clash, Hege Riise gave some insight into how her side were looking to enter the battle against the Canadians.
“Of course, we always step on the field to win, but that game [vs France] gave us some good answers on what we need to improve,” the Norwegian said.
Riise will take charge of the Team GB squad at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, so these camps are crucial for her decision making. So far, she has shown that she is willing to experiment with her team and strike a healthy balance between experienced players and the younger talent coming through the ranks.
The interim manager has been generous with handing out debuts over the last couple of months. Sandy MacIver, Ebony Salmon, Ella Toone and Lotte Wubben-Moy earned their first senior caps during February’s 6-0 win over Northern Ireland. Similarly, Niamh Charles made her debut Lionesses appearance on Friday.
Riise called upon a mixed bag of players for this camp – with personnel ranging from senior stars such as Ellen White and Jill Scott to the then uncapped 21-year-old Charles.
“You need experienced players to win something, but you also need the younger [players] to challenge. The combination is important,” Riise said.
The boss went on to admit that she would be making a number of changes when it comes to the Canada fixture, stressing that it is “important for us to see all the players in these two games.”
One senior player who didn’t feature against France was Lucy Bronze. The defender picked up an injury during training and stayed at St George’s Park whilst the team travelled for their opening fixture. Riise said she will determine Bronze’s fitness after today’s training session and decide whether she will be part of the squad against Canada.
Similarly, Demi Stokes will also take part in the training session and the likelihood of at least a cameo appearance is high for the Manchester City full-back.
“A fresh start”
With a new era on the horizon, the Lionesses are very much in a transitional period as they adjust to a change in management. Not only are the players adapting to the change from Phil Neville to Riise, but new official manager Sarina Wiegman will take over as manager following the Olympics.
Leah Williamson commented on England’s previous form, prior to football being suspended due to coronavirus.
“It felt like a bit of a fresh start the other day [vs France],” the defender said. “In terms of performance, it’s a prime example of one of those where your stats have gone up and we created more chances against a top side and conceded less, yet lost 3-1.
“Everybody’s feeling the disappointment and the only positive is that we have a chance to turn it around, and this is not the game that counts. This is the preparation and if the lessons are learned, that’ll help us in the summer and that’s all that matters.”
England will get their second and final match of this international camp underway on Tuesday at 7.15pm in Stoke.