Bethany England has been included in Sarina Wiegman’s England squad for this summer’s World Cup, while Beth Mead misses out.

Striker England, who has not been involved for her country since last September, is recalled after scoring 12 Women’s Super League goals for Tottenham since joining them from Chelsea in January.

But there is no return for Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner and player of the tournament Mead, having lost her battle against time after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in November.

Alex Morgan is a "global superstar" and it would be "very silly" if she was left out of the United States Women's World Cup squad, according to former team-mate Carly Telford.

The Stars and Stripes head to Australia and New Zealand in July aiming to land a third successive world title, having triumphed in 2015 and 2019, with 33-year-old Morgan hoping to feature at her fourth finals.

The San Diego Wave forward, who was also part of the side that were beaten by Japan in the 2011 final, will be desperate to be included in Vlatko Andonovski's squad, and add to her impressive tally of 121 goals in 206 caps.

Former England goalkeeper Telford, who was part of the Lionesses' squads that reached consecutive semi-finals in 2015 and 2019, knows Morgan well, having played alongside her in California before announcing her retirement in March.

Telford is adamant Morgan should not miss out on the finals.

"She's huge," Telford told Stats Perform. "Without Alex, I don't think the game would get some of the recognition that it's getting. I think she's a global superstar. 

"She performs on and off the pitch. She's not just a footballer; she stands for quality, diversity, everything that is good about being a good person.

"She'll fight for women's rights to make sure that everyone has equal opportunities. She doesn't have to do that; she could just turn up and play football.

"Spending time with her and being in a team with her for 12 months and realising the work that she does on and off the pitch, she's an absolute ambassador to the game. 

"She speaks so highly, so well about the game. I just hope she does go to the World Cup because she's a superstar, and it would be sad if she didn't. But I think she's playing well enough, it would be very silly to leave her out."

USA have been drawn alongside the Netherlands, Portugal and Vietnam in Group E, and face a potential last-16 encounter against either Sweden or Italy.

And though there is a slight veteran feel to the USA's likely roster, Telford insists their World Cup pedigree means they will take some stopping once again, and feels their character on the big stage is epitomised by Lyon forward Lindsey Horan.

"They're mentally monsters," she added. "Everyone might be like 'They're not as good as they used to be, they're ageing'. 

"But I'll tell you what, when they cross that white line, it doesn't matter who they're playing. They will fight, they will scrap, they will battle, they will try and play good football. But at the end of the day, they're just ultimate winners. 

"I think that when you've got someone like Lindsey on the pitch, she is the ultimate at that. She'll break play up, she'll bite, she'll scrap, she'll tackle, she'll drive everyone around her. 

"I just think when it comes to the Americans, when they get into competition mode; they're just a different breed."

Carly Telford has backed her former England team-mate Chloe Kelly to be the Lionesses' crucial player at the upcoming Women's World Cup.

Manchester City attacker Kelly scored the winner as England beat Germany to win the Women's Euros in 2022.

The 25-year-old did not make a start for Sarina Wiegman's team in last year's tournament, with all six of her appearances coming from the bench.

But ex-England and Chelsea goalkeeper Telford reckons Kelly will be an even more pivotal figure at the World Cup, which will take place across July and August in Australia and New Zealand.

"For the Lionesses, she's going to be probably one of our most important players," Telford told Stats Perform. "With her fitness, with her assists, hopefully with lots of goals.

"She's just a really nice kid. And she's thriving in her role and I think she's probably going to be given a lot more responsibility because she's probably going to be a starter for England, which she should be in her form.

"She's ultra-competitive. So I like to think Sarina [will] give her a lot of responsibility at this World Cup because I think she'll be ready for it."

 

Kelly has scored five goals in the Women's Super League for City this season, while providing nine assists in the competition.

It has been a pleasure to watch for Telford, who explained that Kelly has become an even stronger player since sustaining a serious knee injury in 2021.

"She's probably been Manchester City's best player, most consistent player, the most important in terms of her roles in goals and assists," Telford added.

"If you come off the back of a huge injury like that, you're probably thinking 'Am I going to come back the player I was, am I even going to come back at all?'

"She's probably come back a better player than what she was, probably a more rounded person because she's gone through some heartache and had to probably have lots of self-reflective moments like, 'Are you doing the right things?' She's come off the back of that and she's flying."

England captain Leah Williamson gave a brutal assessment of the serious knee injury that has ruled her out of the Women's World Cup, saying: "Ultimately, I think it's just my time."

The 26-year-old, who led England to Euro 2022 glory, has become the latest Arsenal player to suffer a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Her misfortune follows that of England striker Beth Mead and Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema, club-mates of Williamson who are also both set to miss the July-August tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

It is an injury that is far more prevalent in the women's game than among men, and Williamson is struggling to express her sorrow over the crushing blow she has suffered. She may not play again this year.

She issued a statement shortly after Arsenal confirmed the severity of the injury, which was sustained in Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Women's Super League on Wednesday, when Williamson caught her studs in the turf at Leigh Sports Village.

Pained by the situation that has been sprung on her, Williamson said: "Until I have the words to express my feelings properly I will struggle to verbalise them. The noise around the situation is loud and I need some quiet to let it all sink in.

"Unfortunately the World Cup and Champions League dream is over for me and everyone will think that's the main focus, but it's the day to day of what I'm about to go through that is the most draining of my thoughts.

"I had my tears and made my peace with it the night it happened and since then I have been following the steps I'm told to, in order to best help myself in the short and long term.

"Ultimately, I think it's just my time. In the past couple of years alone I have watched team-mates beat serious illnesses and adversity with the biggest of smiles on their faces.

"I also hold perspective that globally there are much greater difficulties and therefore my circumstances right now are just that, circumstantial, and I've seen a lot worse."

England team-mates Chloe Kelly, Fran Kirby, Keira Walsh, Ella Toone and Alessia Russo were among those to send messages of support, with Williamson having led the Lionesses to Finalissima glory against Brazil just two weeks ago.

Arsenal have a Champions League semi-final coming up against Wolfsburg, as they bid to become European champions for a second time, and Williamson's blow hurts their hopes there.

Clearly, Williamson has suffered an immense misfortune and her reaction is that of a player in shock, although she gave an insight into the stark reality of a modern footballing life by revealing the stress her body and mind has been under in recent months.

She wrote in an Instagram post: "I haven't had a day since last October when I've walked on to the pitch without a physical or mental question mark over me, and that's professional sports. So now I have to listen to my body, give it what it needs and if everything happens for a reason, then we'll see what road this turn sends me down.

"I have given and will continue to give everything that my body, mind and heart possibly has to the Arsenal and Lionesses, I will still be there through thick and thin for all of my team-mates and their biggest supporter.

"All I ask is for a little bit of time and space to deal with all that is to come."

England captain Leah Williamson will miss the World Cup after it was confirmed she has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament.

Williamson suffered the injury during Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Women's Super League on Wednesday after catching her studs in the turf at Leigh Sports Village.

With the World Cup starting on July 20, Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman will need to consider her other options at centre-back without Williamson, who helped lead her country to European Championships glory on home soil last year.

A statement from Arsenal on Friday confirmed the diagnosis, saying: "We can confirm that Leah Williamson suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our Barclays Women's Super League match against Manchester United on Wednesday night.

"Leah was substituted in the first half of the game at Leigh Sports Village and underwent further assessment on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.

"Leah will now begin a period of rehabilitation and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. She will undergo surgery in due course.

"Everyone at Arsenal will be supporting Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we would ask that her privacy is respected at this time."

It is the same injury sustained by Williamson's club and country team-mate Beth Mead in November, with Mead in a race against time to make it back in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Reacting at a press conference, boss of Arsenal's WSL title rivals Manchester City, Gareth Taylor, said: "It's obviously not good for Leah or for Arsenal or for England as well."

Taylor backed Williamson to come back strongly, saying: "She's young, she's capable enough of recovering," and pointed out the injury was "very similar to what happened with Chloe [Kelly] two seasons ago", with the striker able to return to action and hit England's winner in the European Championship final against Germany last July.

England manager Sarina Wiegman was "not worried" despite seeing her team's undefeated streak end at the hands of Australia.

The Lionesses went into the friendly on a 30-match unbeaten run, but lost 2-0 at the Brentford Community Stadium on Tuesday thanks to goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant.

It came just days after the European champions won the first ever women's Finalissima against Brazil on penalties, but Wiegman is not concerned as England prepare for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which gets underway in July.

"I'm not worried. I don't worry very quickly," she said after the game. "We know we have to be at our top level and that's when we go into the World Cup too.

"Every game we get some warnings – against Brazil we got some warnings in the Finalissima. We know where we want to go to and what we have to do.

"I don't think we're losing momentum, I think it's building. There's 100 days to go and everyone's really excited to go to Australia and this is just a very big learning moment for us that we need to get to a higher level to win these games."

On losing the undefeated streak, Wiegman added: "I haven't been focused on that ever. We just want to win every game and you remind us all of the time [about the unbeaten run] but we don't talk about that in our camp.

"We talk about the next game and we want to improve every game and try to adapt to the opponent.

"I would've loved to have had a 31st win but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose."

Captain Leah Williamson saw a mistake punished by Kerr to open the scoring, and she told ITV: "Yeah. That first goal probably made it worse for me than everybody else but the whole team feels really, really rubbish about losing. It hurts."

She added: "[It's] absolutely not a setback [before the World Cup]. Sometimes you have to take blessings in disguise and I think maybe that's not the worst thing that could've happened to us.

"We wanted to learn this whole time, we wanted to be pushed to our limits and we need to take it up a new level.

"In the past, we won those games, we turned them around but actually tonight to lose it gives you a bit of fire."

England tasted defeat for the first time under Sarina Wiegman as goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant saw them shocked 2-0 by Australia on Tuesday.

The Lionesses headed into the game on a 30-match unbeaten run, one that has seen them win Euro 2022 as well as the Finalissima against Brazil last week.

But a below-par display saw their streak ended at the Brentford Community Stadium, as an uncharacteristic mistake from captain Leah Williamson allowed Kerr to nip in and open the scoring by lifting the ball over Mary Earps and in.

Grant then doubled her team's lead, arriving at the back post to meet Kerr's deep cross before her header towards goal was deflected by Williamson, completely wrong-footing Earps and sealing victory for Australia.

The upset defeat is not ideal preparation for England as they look ahead to the upcoming World Cup, hosted by the team they just lost to, which is now just 100 days away.

Having suffered her first defeat during her England tenure, Wiegman was at a loss to explain why her team played so poorly, telling ITV4: "I don't have the reason.

"We spoke at half-time that we need to be quicker, have energy, stretch them and run behind. At other times we lost the ball a little quickly. The reasons for that, I have to think about a little longer.

"This is the first time we've lost, but we always learn. We see things done well and things we have to do better. We have to improve to be at our best at the World Cup. Every game is for learning, and this is a big one."

England will wear blue shorts instead of traditional white when the Lionesses take part in the World Cup after players expressed concerns over periods.

The new home strip, which will be debuted in Thursday's Finalissima against Brazil at Wembley, maintains the white shirt, with the away kit all in blue.

A change for Sarina Wiegman's team comes following feedback from players including Beth Mead and Georgia Stanway during Euro 2022.

Following the Lionesses' victorious campaign, the Football Association said discussions with players would be considered, and it has now acted to make alterations.

The strip, designed by Nike, follows moves by several domestic teams to change shorts over period concerns, and is the latest in a wave of new kits ahead of the tournament.

England's latest effort comes with a leak-protection liner, which Jordana Katcher, vice-president of Nike women's global sport apparel, lauded as a major step forward for design.

"We are thrilled to offer this new innovation to all athletes playing for Nike-sponsored federations this summer," she said.

"Professional footballers play two 45-minute halves without breaks. Many told us they can spend several minutes on-pitch concerned that they may experience leakage from their period.

"When we showed them this innovation, they told us how grateful they were to have this short to help provide confidence when they can't leave the pitch."

Following their clash with Brazil, the Lionesses will play a friendly with World Cup hosts Australia a week on Tuesday.

They then start their tournament campaign on July 22 against Haiti, before further group matches against Denmark and China.

Beth Mead will miss the Women's World Cup unless "a miracle happens", according to England head coach Sarina Wiegman.

The Arsenal forward suffered an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury in November and has not played since.

Such injuries are long-term setbacks, and it was the cruellest of blows for Mead, coming so soon after she played a starring role in England's Euro 2022 triumph.

Mead won the Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boot as hosts England swept to glory, edging out Germany 2-1 in the Wembley Stadium final on July 31.

The 27-year-old former Sunderland striker would have been central to England's plans for this year's global tournament, which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

Wiegman believes there is next to no chance of Mead being fit to feature for the Lionesses, however.

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Wiegman said of Mead: "I had a conversation with her. She's doing well. She's in rehab and she's doing good.

"But the World Cup is actually too early, so what we said now is she's not in our plans now.

"[She should] just really take the time to get back well, but if a miracle happens and she goes so fast we will reconsider it, but at this moment I don't expect that."

England have home friendlies against Australia and Brazil in April as they build towards the focal point of the year.

There are also worries over Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, who is sidelined with a knee injury of her own, albeit not one as serious as the one Mead sustained.

"Of course I'm concerned because she's been out for a while now," Wiegman said. "But I want to keep this opportunity open, and she'll be treated as we treat anyone else.

"Hopefully she gets fit, gets on the pitch, gets playing, and then you need to show performance and fitness. It's a little concern, but also don't think too much forward, just see how she progresses."

Alexia Putellas has been crowned the Best FIFA Women's Player, denying England's female representatives a clean sweep at Monday's ceremony.

Sarina Wiegman and Mary Earps had earlier been crowned the Best FIFA Women's Coach and the Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper respectively following England's Euro 2022 success on home soil last year.

But Beth Mead, the Euro 2022 Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot winner, missed out to Barcelona and Spain midfielder Putellas.

Putellas, who won the Primera Division with Barcelona in 2021-22 but missed the Euros with an ACL injury, is now a two-time winner of the award after also coming out on top last year.

"If you have a dream and fight for it as hard as you can, you can achieve that dream," Putellas said upon collecting the award. "The most important thing is to enjoy yourself along the way."

San Diego Wave and United States forward Alex Morgan was the other candidate in the running to land the award.

Putellas, Mead and Morgan all appeared in the FIFPro Women's World 11, although Earps missed out to Christiane Endler.

England also had Lucy Bronze, Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh in the team.

Lauren James is the England player "everyone has been waiting years for", said Lucy Bronze after the Chelsea forward netted her first international goal on Thursday.

James, the sister of Chelsea and England men's right-back Reece, scored the final goal in a 4-0 win against South Korea in the Arnold Clark Cup.

The 21-year-old, earning her sixth senior cap, had won the penalty Georgia Stanway netted for the opener.

James has had to bide her time for opportunities at both club and international level, having dealt with injury issues both before and after her move from Manchester United.

But she has shown this season why she is considered perhaps the most talented England player of her generation.

James has scored four goals and provided one assist in 10 Women's Super League matches. She has thrilled fans with her exciting playing style, completing more dribbles (21) than any other player in the division.

Now, after making an impact for England, Bronze – previously The Best FIFA Women's Player – is looking forward to seeing what more there is to come from James.

"Everyone knows the quality that LJ's got," the right-back said. "Technically, on the ball, she's probably one of the best there is.

"It's fun for me to play with her, because I know she's always going to get the ball in the right place.

"It's crazy that she's so young, because this is the player that everyone has been talking about for five years now.

"Everyone has been waiting for this superstar, and it's exciting to be here now at the start of her England career."

James added: "I'm lost for words really. I just like to stay humble, continue giving to the team and continue improving."

England manager Sarina Wiegman said: "She has been a talent for a long time. She just needed to be available and needed some time at Chelsea.

"She worked really hard at Chelsea. That's what you have seen this season, then she can take the next step to the national team.

"Now, when she starts playing at this level with Chelsea and in the Champions League and on this international level and gets those minutes, she can improve.

"I hope now she gets consistency, she stays fit and keeps enjoying herself."

The West Indies Women started their 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup campaign with a seven-wicket loss at the hands of England Women at Boland Park in Paarl on Saturday.

The 2016 World T20 champions made 135-7 from their 20 overs, their highest total since December 2022, after winning the toss and electing to bat first.

Captain Hayley Matthews was the top run getter for the Windies with a 32-ball 42 including eight fours while Shemaine Campbelle chipped in with 34 off 37 deliveries including four fours.

Left arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, the number one ranked T20I bowler in the world, led the way with the ball with 3-23 from her four overs.

The English then made quick work of the modest total, needing only 14.3 overs to reach 138-3.

Nat Sciver-Brunt exercised her usual dominance with 40* off 30 balls while skipper Heather Knight ended 32* as the pair guided the 2009 champion home.

Sciver-Brunt’s knock included six fours and a six while Knight’s innings came off 22 balls and included four fours and a six.

Sophia Dunkley had earlier made an 18-ball 34 including four fours and a six.

Chinelle Henry took two of the three wickets to fall while conceding 30 runs off three and a half overs.

The West Indies will next play India on February 15 while England will next face Ireland on February 13.

Scores: West Indies Women 135-7 off 20 overs (Hayley Matthews 42, Shemaine Campbelle 37, Sophie Ecclestone 3-23)

England Women 138-3 off 14.3 overs (Nat Sciver-Brunt 40*, Sophia Dunkley 34, Heather Knight 32*, Chinelle Henry 2-30)

 

 

  

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema have been shortlisted for the FIFA Best Men's Player Award.

Messi led Argentina to glory at last year's World Cup, scoring seven times, including twice in the final, and laying on three assists.

That ended a 36-year wait for a third world title for Argentina, while for many his performances in Qatar cemented Messi as the greatest of all time.

Argentina overcame France on penalties in the showdown at Lusail Stadium on December 18, though it was not for the want of trying from Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-3 draw, and like his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Messi also converted his spot-kick in the shoot-out.

Mbappe won the competition's Golden Boot award after netting eight goals, while he set up another two.

Between August 8, 2021 and December 18, 2022 – the time period on which this year's FIFA Best awards are based – Mbappe scored 58 goals for PSG, the highest figure of any player across Europe's top five leagues.

Third on that list is Real Madrid striker Benzema, who won last year's Ballon d'Or and makes up the final shortlist. He netted 50 times for Los Blancos, helping them win LaLiga and the Champions League, though he suffered an injury on the eve of the World Cup and had to withdraw from France's squad.

FIFA also confirmed the nominations for the Puskas Award for best goal.

Richarlison's stunning effort in Brazil's World Cup opener against Serbia has made the cut, as has an audacious half-volley from Dimitri Payet in Marseille's Europa Conference League clash with PAOK last April.

Marcin Oleksy, meanwhile, scored a sublime overhead kick for Warta Poznan amputee football against Stal Rzeszow, and the Pole joins Richarlison and Payet on the final shortlist.

The Best Women's Player Award will also be handed out at the FIFA ceremony on February 27.

Beth Mead was crucial in England's success at the Women's Euros last year, winning the Golden Boot and being named as Player of the Tournament.

Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas missed the tournament through injury but the Barcelona star makes the list, along with Alex Morgan.

Argentina's World Cup-winning boss Lionel Scaloni and Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti are among the finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Coach Award 2022.

The duo are listed alongside perennial candidate Pep Guardiola of Manchester City in the final three, with the latter named as a finalist for the third time.

Scaloni, who finished fourth last year, took La Albiceleste to victory at Qatar 2022 and is recognised for his efforts in helping to seal a first World Cup triumph since 1986.

Ancelotti is feted for his work with Madrid, after winning a continental double and becoming the first manager to win all five major European league titles.

Guardiola guided City to another Premier League triumph, though he fell short in the Champions League once again and saw his team's main rival Liverpool nab the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

The Spaniard will be looking to go one better than his previous two appearances as a finalist in the voting, having finished second in 2019 and third in 2021.

Among those included in the final three for The Best FIFA Women's Coach Award, England boss Sarina Wiegman picks up a sixth consecutive nod in the category.

The Lionesses manager, a two-time winner of the prize, led the team to a maiden major honour triumph at Euro 2022, securing victory against Germany on home soil.

She is joined by Brazil boss Pia Sundhage – the Swede having claimed Copa America Femenina glory – and Lyon's Sonia Bompastor, who won the treble with the French side.

The winners of The Best FIFA Football Awards will be announced on February 27.

 

Sarina Wiegman is not making any early call on Beth Mead's involvement in this year's Women's World Cup.

Mead won the Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boot as England celebrated an historic triumph at their home Women's Euro 2022.

The Arsenal striker also finished in second place in last year's Ballon d'Or Feminin voting and would have a key role to play for Wiegman's Lionesses in Australia and New Zealand in July.

But Mead's status ahead of the finals is uncertain as she continues her recovery from an ACL tear in November.

As Wiegman named her latest England squad on Tuesday, she was asked if consideration had been given to plans that did not include Mead.

But featuring at the World Cup remains a target for the 27-year-old.

"It's a little early to say. I don't want to push it. She's had so many things going on," Wiegman said of Mead, whose mother died last year from ovarian cancer.

 

"We'll see how her rehabilitation goes, then we'll look at the future. I don't want her to look too far forward right now because of her situation.

"She had of course other private issues. I left the knee situation until now as I just wanted her to be okay and get settled with the situation and sadness she had around her.

"She told me she's doing well. She really wants to make [the World Cup]. First, she needs to settle and we will see from there. For now, I won't push that."

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