Fran Kirby and Keira Walsh return to England squad for Belgium double-header

By Sports Desk October 17, 2023

Fit-again pair Fran Kirby and Keira Walsh have returned to the England squad for this month’s Nations League double-header against Belgium but there is no recall for Beth Mead.

Chelsea’s Kirby has not been involved since sustaining a knee injury in February, while Barcelona’s Walsh is back after missing the matches against Scotland and the Netherlands in September because of a calf issue.

Mead is not included despite on Sunday making her first appearance for Arsenal since her knee injury last November, coming off the bench and setting up the winner in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.

Mead’s club-mate Lotte Wubben-Moy is also back, after withdrawing from the September squad with an injury, while there are maiden call-ups for Grace Clinton, who is on loan at Tottenham from Manchester United, and Manchester City goalkeeper Khiara Keating.

Katie Robinson, Jordan Nobbs, Laura Coombs and Lucy Staniforth drop out.

Sarina Wiegman’s side continue their Group A1 matches by facing Belgium at Leicester’s King Power Stadium a week on Friday and then again away four days later, having started their campaign with a 2-1 win over Scotland and 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in September.

Wiegman said: “It’s good for us to be back together. Obviously we had a good start with the win against Scotland; however, the outcome of our last fixture against the Netherlands was disappointing.

“We will be fully focused to perform well twice against tough opposition. Belgium’s results in the Nations League show they are a talented side who can cause teams problems, so we will need to be at our best to get the results we’re looking for.

“The group is wide open, so every game is crucial. The squad have shown their ability to respond to setbacks and I’m sure this will be no different. We look forward to meeting up at St George’s Park next Monday and putting in the time to make sure we’re fully prepared and ready to go twice in quick succession.

“Again we feel very fortunate to be playing in front of a sell-out crowd. The support we are receiving from all corners of the country is amazing, it isn’t something we’ll ever take for granted and it really gives us that extra lift. Hopefully we can give them another night to remember.”

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