Maya Le Tissier has emphasised her determination to keep improving after returning to the England squad following the “bittersweet” experience of her summer.

The 21-year-old Manchester United defender was part of the Lionesses’ preparations for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but not their subsequent run to the final, having been named as one of two standby players that flew home as the tournament began.

Two-cap Le Tissier, who says it was “devastating” to not make Sarina Wiegman’s World Cup 23, is now back as a member of the first squad selected since, for matches in the inaugural Women’s Nations League against Scotland on Friday and the Netherlands four days later.

She said of her summer: “It was bittersweet. I loved Australia, loved being with the girls. I really enjoyed my experience out there, it’s such a cool country.

“Just being a small part of the preparation going into the tournament has definitely made me more hungry to be selected for the next tournaments to come.

“Obviously it was devastating when I got the call that I wasn’t selected in the 23, but there was nothing else I could really do apart from be as good as I could for the team and try to put myself in the best place I could, helping them prepare for the World Cup.”

Asked how desperate she was to make the cut for Euro 2025 – England players also have the target of next summer’s Olympics with Great Britain, qualification for which can be secured via the Nations League – Le Tissier said: “(I’m) extremely desperate, but it’s in two years – there’s a lot that can happen in two years.

“I just need to focus on playing football and getting better. I’m still young so I’ve got a lot of things to learn and improve on, so if I can do that, that’ll put me in the best place to be selected.

“I’m just focusing on the present, doing well in these next two games with England and starting the Women’s Super League season (on October 1).

“(I need to) just keep playing well and doing well for United, doing well when I’m here, and hopefully be a big part of the team in years to come.

“I think I can look at the players and take a lot from them, and see how I can develop.

“They’re European champions and they just got to a World Cup final. I’m very inspired by the rest of the team and I just have to perform, day in, day out, as well as I can and consistently.

“I’ve still got a long way to go, so it’s exciting to see what happens in the future.”

England kick off their Nations League Group A1 fixtures by playing the Scots at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

Le Tissier said: “I think Scotland-England is a game everyone wants to be a part of.

“They want to beat us, we want to beat them, and it’s going to be an exciting game, especially up north. They’re massive football fans up there.

“I watched the men’s game the other day (a 3-1 win for England at Hampden Park) and it was a crazy atmosphere as well, so we’re really looking forward to the game.

“They’ve got some good players but we’ll be focusing on ourselves and seeing what we can do to beat them.”

After that contest, England then head to Utrecht for the Netherlands match.

England boss Sarina Wiegman has said she is “very worried” about the playing calendar after naming her squad for this month’s Women’s Nations League double-header.

The Lionesses return to action, after their defeat in the World Cup final on August 20, by facing Scotland in Sunderland a week on Friday and the Netherlands in Utrecht four days later to open their campaign in the new competition.

The Arsenal players in her squad – forward Alessia Russo and defender Lotte Wubben-Moy – took part in Champions League qualifying matches last Wednesday and Saturday.

Wiegman, whose players started their pre-World Cup preparation camp on June 19, told a press conference on Wednesday when asked if she was concerned about the calendar and time off: “Yes, I am very worried.

“I was worried before the World Cup, and we knew this was a very short turnaround.

“It’s a bigger thing – we’re all talking about the calendar and we really have to get connected with FIFA, UEFA, the federations, and we have to make that better.

“Of course the game is growing, which is really good. But it has to grow together and players need some rest too.

“Next week they come in and some players only had six days off, which after such a high-level, high-pressure competition is not good for them. And that has been going on for a long time, because we have major tournaments in the summer all the time. So the urgency to solve it and make it better is really, really high.

“The players will come in and we first have to see how they are physically, and we have to get them fresh, and do everything to do that. That’s going to be a challenge.

“Of course you have the team and you want to perform at the highest level, and also you want players to be fresh. For me and my staff it’s balancing (the) two – is this player fit enough, fresh enough, to play the game? That’s balancing, it’s so intense, and players are not robots.”

She added: “I’ve talked to coaches. I think everyone’s aware that we have to speak with each other and we can do a little better, and we all know it’s pretty complex.

“But I think conversations are going on, and we just need to keep doing that and hopefully find better solutions than we had.”

Keira Walsh is missing from England’s first squad since the Women’s World Cup due to injury.

As well as midfielder Walsh, forward Bethany England also drops out, ruled out after undergoing hip surgery last week.

There is no recall at this stage for Beth Mead despite her returning to Arsenal’s matchday squad as an unused substitute in their Champions League qualifying games last week.

And the same applies to Fran Kirby, who has been involved in pre-season with Chelsea – both sat out the World Cup because of injury.

Sarina Wiegman’s 24-player selection sees Maya Le Tissier, Lucy Staniforth and Jess Park brought back into the fold.

Le Tissier and Staniforth were on the standby list ahead of the summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the latter replacing Park, who withdrew because of a shoulder issue.

Wiegman’s World Cup runners-up play Scotland at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light a week on Friday and the Netherlands in Utrecht four days later in the new women’s Nations League.

Wiegman said: “By the time we play our first game, it will be little more than a month since the World Cup final. We have had little time to reflect on all we have achieved so far this year.

“Instead, we will have to make sure the players are fresh enough and ready to perform straight away, if we want to go far in another competition.

“We will play a derby match against Scotland and they have shown good development recently and are getting stronger and stronger, while we know all about the Netherlands of course, and the very talented players they have.

“It is the first time we have had the Nations League in the women’s game, and it will mean even more competitive matches for us to test ourselves.

“While the time to look back on a special period for us will come at the end of the year, it will be good to see the fans again in Sunderland. We have a great connection with the north east and I know they will give us tremendous support again.”

Sarina Wiegman is an outstanding coach and could succeed Gareth Southgate as manager of the England men's national team, says former Spain captain Veronica Boquete.

With reports suggesting Southgate may depart after he leads the Three Lions to his fourth major tournament at Euro 2024, various coaches have been touted as potential successors.  

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola is a reported target for the Football Association, but Wiegman's name has also been mentioned after she led the Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory last year.

Wiegman was denied another trophy as England were beaten by Spain in last month's Women's World Cup final, but Boquete remains convinced by her work with the Lionesses.  

The 36-year-old midfielder – who captained her country at the 2015 World Cup – feels Wiegman's name should be in the conversation.

"I think this is going to arrive, there is going to be a moment where a woman will be coaching a high-level [men's] team or national team," Boquete told Stats Perform. "She has already showed that she is a fantastic coach, that she has the knowledge, that she is a leader. So why not? 

"What are they going to say? 'Oh, no, she cannot be the coach of the men's national team' – Why not? She has already proved that she is great. 

"For me, it's about capacities and knowledge and if the players want to be coached by the best. If she is the best, they should give her the chance. 

"Everyone would be supporting her because it would be something fantastic for football but also for society."

Spain's first Women's World Cup win was overshadowed by the behaviour of Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] president Luis Rubiales, who has been provisionally suspended by FIFA after grabbing Jennifer Hermoso and kissing the forward on the lips.

A group of 81 players have refused to represent La Roja if Rubiales remains in post, while head coach Jorge Vilda – who was the subject of a player revolt previously – was sacked a little over two weeks after lifting the World Cup.

Wiegman was praised for speaking out in support of Spain's players upon receiving the UEFA Women's Coach of the Year award in Monaco last week, and her comments further convinced Boquete of her leadership skills. 

"I think her speech was fantastic and it gave hope to so many people to really believe in change," she added.

"It's crazy that the coach of the team that loses the final offered her moment to those players that are in this crazy situation, to defend something in such a strong way. I already had so much respect for her on the sporting side, but obviously now also on the personal side. 

"I consider her a leader, globally, and her words were just fantastic. I think we need to say thanks so many times because it was her moment and we kind of stole it, so we really appreciate it."

Asked about the controversy engulfing women's football in Spain, Boquete claimed her nation had enough talent to win previous World Cups, only to be held back by the RFEF's poor leadership. 

"It is not easy to explain to other countries all the things that are going on behind the scenes," she said. "Everyone will say 'yeah, but you're winning, how is that possible?' 

"I say, yeah, we win because we have a lot of talent. Normally with their clubs, they have better conditioning so they develop and that's great, but can you imagine if everyone was working in the right way a long time ago? We could have been world champions 10 years ago. 

"We were missing a lot of chances. We just want change so that it doesn't happen again and Spain can always be at the top.

"We already had the talent before, we had amazing players that didn't win anything because the people in charge didn't help them develop. So we just want the [right] people on top, so everyone can just be focused on being the best."

Georgia Stanway believes England “absolutely need” to keep Sarina Wiegman after she guided the Lionesses to the World Cup final – insisting women’s football is not a stepping stone into the men’s game for top coaches.

Wiegman has been linked with a the vacant post as head coach of the United States – or a move into the men’s game – but the Dutch manager has said she intends to honour her contract with the Football Association.

The 53-year-old led England to the Euro title at Wembley last summer but could not mastermind victory over Spain – who won the World Cup final 1-0 on Sunday.

Wiegman had achieved the same record as Netherlands boss, winning the 2017 Euros before falling short in the 2019 World Cup final ahead of taking the reins of the Lionesses.

Such success is bound to lead to interest from elsewhere but Stanway, who returns to training at Bayern Munich next week, believes it is vital that the FA holds on to Wiegman.

“Oh, we need her, we absolutely need her,” Stanway told Sky Sports News when asked about Wiegman’s future.

“She’s done amazing in what she’s done so far, even at the Netherlands and here as well – to be a female coach and obviously paving the way for female coaches.

“I think it’s amazing and to reach four finals in the last four major tournaments. Yeah, it’s class.”

The Netherlands men’s team has been a post Wiegman has been linked with in recent days, while Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is continually touted as being in the running for vacancies in the men’s game having guided the Blues to 13 major honours.

Asked if it was a compliment or a frustration that the best managers in the women’s game could be cherry-picked by men’s clubs, Stanway added: “I think it’s a bit of both.

“I think, as female footballers, we don’t want the female game to be the stepping stone for the men’s game

“We want it to be football and we want people to enjoy the fact that we play football, we enjoy it. And likewise for coaches, they enjoy coaching us and they’re the ones that are getting us to the top.

“We’re not a stepping stone and we’re trying our best to get the women’s game on the map as much as possible and we’ll continue to break barriers and see what we can do.”


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Stanway swapped Manchester City for Bayern after the Euros win last summer and collected a Frauen-Bundesliga medal in her first season in Germany.


England captain Harry Kane has made the move this year, leaving Tottenham for Munich in recent weeks – and Stanway offered him some advice.

“I think we’ll have the same German teacher but I wish him the best of luck with the language,” she said.

“Because, well, I’ve been there for a year now and I’m waiting for that click. The German teacher keeps saying it’ll click, it’ll click and a year down the line, and I’m nowhere near this click.

“I wish him the best of luck and hopefully, I’ll be able to get down to the Allianz Arena and watch some games.

“The city is lovely. The people are lovely. The German culture is so open and so welcoming and I’m sure he will feel at home straight away.”

England boss Sarina Wiegman felt the Lionesses exhausted every effort to win their first Women’s World Cup final despite coming up just short with a 1-0 loss to Spain in Sydney.

The Dutch boss, who led England to their first major trophy at last summer’s European Championship, finds herself with a silver medal in two consecutive attempts after steering 2019 runners-up the Netherlands to the title-decider four years ago in France.

Second place is still a best-ever finish for the Lionesses in a global showpiece, beating their bronze medal from 2015, but the three-time FIFA Best winning coach knows from experience it may take some time before the sting subsides.

Wiegman, who reiterated her commitment to remaining in England on multiple occasions this week, said: “That’s hard to take now, and of course we did everything, we gave everything, we’ve overcome lots of challenges and today we did everything we could to win.

“It feels really bad, of course, and very disappointed, but still very proud of the team.

“I’m just hurt about this moment. Losing a game and in a final, when you’re in a final you want to win it. I guess you mean because it’s a second final, I don’t see it (like that), this was a different game, a different team.

“I was totally convinced before the game that it would be a very tight game but we were confident that we were able to win it. I hope in the future I get a new moment with the team I work with, that would be amazing, because it’s very special to play finals.”

Lauren Hemp came inches away from scoring an opener with a first-half attempt that clipped the crossbar, and it remained England’s best chance of the contest.

Spain took a 1-0 lead when Mariona Caldentey slipped the ball to the onrushing Olga Carmona, who finished past Mary Earps with a left-footed effort into the bottom right corner after 29 minutes.

Wiegman initially employed the 3-5-2 shape that had been so successful in England’s 6-1 victory over China, but reverted to a 4-3-3 in the second half, when she brought in Lauren James – available for the first time following her two-match ban – and Chloe Kelly after the break.

Spain could have doubled their advantage in the second half when Keira Walsh was punished for a handball inside the penalty area following a lengthy VAR check, but the competition’s Golden Glove winner Earps read Jennifer Hermoso’s spot-kick perfectly and produced a fine save to keep England in the contest.

Wiegman said: “I think we played better in the second half. We changed shape, we got momentum, we got more in their half. Then they got the penalty and when Mary saved it I thought, ‘OK, now we’re going to score a goal and get the 1-1’, but we didn’t.”

The 2027 Women’s World Cup hosts will be announced at the 74th FIFA Congress in May, while England will defend their European title in Switzerland in 2025.

First comes UEFA’s newly launched Nations League, which also serves as a qualifier for next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

England, Scotland or Wales would need to reach the final to qualify as Team GB, or finish third if automatically qualified hosts France are one of the last two.

Wiegman managed the Netherlands during the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games, but was disappointed by the Covid-19-impacted experience, remarking earlier in the week that “it felt like a jail. We were stuck in a hotel.”

So rather than thinking about the next World Cup in an as-yet-undecided location, Wiegman was looking ahead to just over a month’s time when England will kick off their Nations League campaign against Scotland at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on September 22.

She added: “Four years is a little bit of a long time. We will start in September in the Nations League to try to qualify for the Olympics.

“You want to improve all the time. This team and this group of players are so eager to be successful. We want to grab every moment to be better. We hope we come back and play good games again to win.”

It says something about England manager Sarina Wiegman that even her own players have to remind themselves that their boss is a mere mortal.

One of the most memorable moments of this World Cup came when, on the eve of the Lionesses’ final group stage match against China, midfielder Georgia Stanway relayed an anecdote about meeting members of Wiegman’s family in Australia that concluded with the quip, “Sometimes you don’t realise your head coach is actually human.”

it would be easy to look at the 53-year-old’s incredible record and insist she must be some kind of superhero from Planet Football who six years ago arrived on Earth with the mission of conquering as many major competitions as possible, beginning when she steered the Netherlands – her actual place of origin – to the Euro 2017 title.

The reality is far more interesting – and relatable. In 2007, the part-time coach and PE teacher was offered a  semi-professional role leading ADO Den Hag in the newly-formed Eredivisie Vrouwen, a risky move she resolutely replied she would only make if it was upgraded to a full-time gig.

“I never talk about my husband (Marten Glotzbach) that much but then it was about my family,” she told the PA news agency.

“I quit my job. We didn’t earn a lot of money by being a professional coach, but I really wanted to do the job. And he said, ‘this is your passion. Go for your passion, and we’ll be alright with the two daughters.’

“And that was for me the most important thing, that we as a family were OK, and I could do this job properly. I said I want to do it full time because I want to focus on football, and if I couldn’t do it full-time I wouldn’t have done it, because then I couldn’t bring the quality that was needed to develop the game.”

Under the former Netherlands midfielder, who as a child cut her hair and pretended to be a boy to evade a ban forbidding girls from playing football, ADO Den Haag won the national championship in 2012, and the FA Cup-equivalent KNVB Cup in 2012 and 2013.

Wiegman, who earned 104 caps for her country, had witnessed what investment in the women’s game could yield from her time spent playing for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels – also the alma mater of current Lionesses Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Lotte Wubben-Moy – in the late 1980s.

The opportunity to play in America came after a chance meeting with then-US women’s national team head coach Anson Dorrance at a 1988 FIFA-sanctioned proof-of-concept tournament in China that would eventually lead to the establishment of the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991.

Dorrance, who still works at UNC and remains in touch with Wiegman and her playing trio, told the PA news agency:  “You could see something in her even incredibly early that set her apart.”

Writing in the Coaches’ Voice, Wiegman said: “America was like a soccer paradise for me. There was recognition, the facilities were great and we had good coaches – passionate coaches.

The year I spent there changed my life. It changed my mindset.”

Seven years after turning full time, Wiegman was back in the national team set up, this time as head coach Roger Reijners’ assistant.

She soon upskilled, interning with men’s side Sparta Rotterdam whilst on her pro license course, in the process anointing Wiegman as the first woman to coach with a Dutch men’s professional club.

The true pioneer was handed the Netherlands’ top job permanently in 2017, just six months before she would guide the hosts to a maiden Euros victory.

Less than a year after leaving the ‘Orange Lionesses’ for the English ones in 2021, Wiegman steered her new side to the same trophy, the first coach to do so with two different countries.

When England sealed their trip to a first-ever World Cup final with Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia, Wiegman also became the first manager to reach the showpiece’s final hurdle with two different teams.

Four years ago in France, the Netherlands finished runners-up to the United States.

England – and Wiegman – are determined to do one better this year. The Lionesses have lost just once in 38 games under Wiegman, a record they are aching to extend to 39 on Sunday.

Both Wiegman and Dorrance would describe the England boss as “serious”, someone who has imported a sense of Dutch directness to the culture at St George’s Park.

That reputation – combined with a reluctance to steal any of the spotlight away from her players – belies a delightful and often self-deprecating sense of humour, impeccable comedic timing, and awareness that she does often have a resting “focused face” until she erupts with emotion after a goal or final whistle.

Despite her reputation as a serial winner, who FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said this week “could do any job in football”,  Wiegman revealed her biggest motivation and “love”, no matter how full her trophy cabinet gets, “is to work with work with very ambitious, talented people.

“Connecting people, trying to help players to support players and help them a little bit in their development, which helps them in life too.

“Yes I want to win and I want to be the best too but that gives me the energy.”

England are doing their best to make it business as usual as they prepare to face Spain in the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday.

Defender Jess Carter insists there will be no additional nerves ahead of a game she never envisaged being a part of, while head coach Sarina Wiegman is preoccupied by a selection dilemma.

Here, the PA news agency looks at all the latest news heading into Sunday’s big one:

More the merrier for Carter

England defender Jess Carter admits every extra minute is a bonus as she prepares to feature in Sunday’s World Cup final.

The 25-year-old has been one of the lynchpins of her side’s run to within 90 minutes of a first women’s World Cup win but says she did not expect to get this far.

“When I didn’t play against Denmark, I wasn’t not bothered, but it was just like, ‘I’ve just played in a World Cup, I had more minutes than I thought I was ever going to get coming into this tournament’.

“I didn’t come into the tournament expecting to play at all.”

And the laidback Lioness is adamant there will be no stage-fright on the biggest occasion of all, just “positive energy” at the prospect of making history.

“I’m not really a nervous person,” she added. “I understand and know from the outside, it’s the World Cup final, your biggest moment.

“I play my best when I’m super calm. Maybe some people have nerves but I think that will be challenged into positive energy come the night.”

Wiegman’s selection dilemma

Sarina Wiegman faces a selection dilemma ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final as she decides whether to start striker Lauren James.

James scored three times and picked up the same number of assists before she was sent off in the last 16 win over Nigeria, sitting out the quarter-final and semi-final as a result.

Replacement Ella Toone scored in the 3-1 win over Australia in the last four but Wiegman has indicated she holds nothing against James, who apologised for her rash stamp on Nigeria’s Michele Alozie.

“Of course she really regretted that moment straight away,” said Wiegman. “She apologised, she was punished for that and we all know this should not happen in football.

“She started training again and we supported her, because sometimes when you’re not that experienced at this level some fatigue comes in the game and you have just a split second where you lose your emotions.

“That’s a mistake, that’s a hard learning lesson, but now she’s ready to play in the game.”

Vilda’s revenge bid

Spain coach Jorge Vilda is determined his side learn the lessons of their extra-time loss to England in last summer’s European Championship quarter-finals.

Vilda has guided his nation to their first final despite a backdrop of controversy after over a dozen top stars quit the squad last year in a row over their treatment.

Referencing their narrow defeat in Brighton, Vilda said: “It was a game that we know we were on top, but the result is what counts.

“Games against England really require our best. She (Wiegman) is a trainer that with her results has shown the fruits of her work, it’s not easy what she has achieved.”

Shutting down questions over the ongoing issues in his squad, Vilda added: “What we want to do tomorrow is be the best in the world and we’ll do this by winning the final.”

Opened up!

Cornwall Council were the first to heed a plea from cabinet minister Michael Gove to allow licensed premises to open one hour early for the World Cup final on Sunday.

Current regulations mean the sale of alcohol is widely prohibited before 10am on Sunday, but venues such as pubs also have specific hours they can stay open and serve alcohol depending on individual licences.

Gove urged councils to do everything they can to help premises extend their licenses, saying: “the whole nation is ready to get behind the Lionesses this Sunday in what is England’s biggest game since 1966.”

Cornwall Council, in association with Devon and Cornwall Police, were quick to heed Gove’s call, announcing that they will be no “enforcement action” if the alcohol starts to flow slightly earlier.

Swede dreams

Australia’s home World Cup came to a disappointing end as they were beaten 2-0 by Sweden in the third place play-off.

Kosovare Asllani sealed victory with a brilliant second half strike after Fridolina Rolfo had opened the scoring with a penalty on the half-hour mark.

The result rounded off a remarkable campaign from the Matildas, who captured the public’s imagination having only reached the quarter-finals once previously.

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson, whose side suffered a 3-1 semi-final defeat against England, said the journey was far from over, insisting: “We have a massive amount of work to do to capitalise on this.”

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Final: Spain v England (Sydney, Sunday 1100BST)

Sarina Wiegman says England feel buoyed by the levels of support for the team ahead of the World Cup final.

The Lionesses take on Spain on Sunday as they bid to win the trophy for the first time.

Boss Wiegman said: “It’s incredible what happened. We felt the support, we felt the support here, but also from the other side of the world in the UK. That’s something that we dream of.

“I feel privileged. I’m very happy in the place where I am now. There’s a lot of support, we have everything we need to perform at the highest level. It is a pleasure to work with these incredible people.”

Wiegman was concise when asked how the team had reintegrated Lauren James, who could start on Sunday after serving a two-match suspension following her red card against Nigeria in the last 16.

She said: “Of course she kept training and it’s really nice to have 23 players available for tomorrow.”

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes refused to step on England manager Sarina Wiegman’s toes when asked if Lauren James should return to the Lionesses’ starting line-up for Sunday’s World Cup final against Spain.

The 21-year-old Blues forward scored three goals and picked up the same number of assists before she was sent off in the Lionesses’ last-16 victory over Nigeria and given a two-match ban for stepping on the back of defender Michelle Alozie.

Having served her punishment during the quarter- and semi-finals, James is now available to reclaim her spot in Wiegman’s starting XI – but she remains in competition with replacement Ella Toone, who netted the Lionesses’ opener in their 3-1 last-four victory to eliminate co-hosts Australia.

James’ club boss Hayes said: “I think you know, I’m a manager but picking someone else’s team is not my job. It’s Sarina’s. My job is to enjoy it. Those players are prepared for whatever happens and for whatever team Sarina picks. I’m sure Lauren would be ready.

“Lauren is just very excited to be in a World Cup final as all of the England players are. They are all excited.

“It’s about England as a team and England as a whole and they have all stepped up and filled in, whether that’s Katie Zelem who filled in for Keira Walsh or Ella Toone at least filling in for Lauren James after that quarter-final.

“Lauren is an outstanding player and will go on to contribute many more moments for both club and country. As always she will be reflective and will move forward with that.”

James, who apologised for the red-card incident on social media, came off the bench in England’s 1-0 Haiti opener to kick-start their undefeated path to the final, then scored the winner against Denmark in her first World Cup start.

She bagged a brace in the Lionesses’ thumping 6-1 win over China to conclude the group stage, also assisting three goals in that rout.

James’ stock has risen under the watchful eye of Hayes, who has won the Women’s Super League (WSL) manager of the year award six times, including the past four seasons, and predicted her Chelsea charge would be vital to the European champions’ hopes of lifting a first World Cup.

Hayes was named FIFA’s best manager in the women’s game in 2021, succeeding Wiegman, who has now won the award three times after also receiving the honour following England’s Euro 2022 triumph.

It is no surprise, then, that both women’s names have been floated as potential candidates to take over the US women’s team, a role made vacant on Thursday after US Soccer announced the federation and Vlatko Andonovski had agreed to part ways.

The decision came after the FIFA world number one-ranked Americans not only failed to defend their back-to-back titles, but were knocked out by Sweden in a last-16 penalty shootout for their worst-ever finish.

Hayes, who has managed Chelsea since 2012, said: “I suspected that question would come up.

“I’m very happy at Chelsea, I’ve made that clear. I’ve been there for 11 years, it’s my home. I think the US has wonderful players and perhaps the tournament didn’t go the way they wanted but my focus is on getting home and preparing the team for the start of the season.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham would not rule out the possibility that Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman could one day lead the England men’s team.

The 53-year-old’s stock as a serial winner has risen steadily since securing the European championship trophy with her native Netherlands in 2017, then doing the same with England last summer.

She has now guided England to a first-ever World Cup final, in the process becoming the only manager to do so with two different nations in the women’s showpiece after steering her home country to the same stage four years ago.

Asked if Wiegman could be seen as a potential successor to Gareth Southgate, Bullingham said: “I think it’s a bit disrespectful of the Lionesses to project it as a step up. People always say it is ‘the best man for the job’ or ‘the best Englishman’.

“Why does it have to be a man? I think our answer is always it’s the best person for the job. We think Sarina is doing a great job and hope she continues doing it for a long time.”

Pressed as to whether England was ready to have a woman in the top men’s seat, he added: “I think football is behind other sports in terms of lack of female coaches at the top level, and that has to change.

“Do I think Sarina could do any job in football? Yes, I do. I’m really happy with the job she’s doing and I hope she stays doing that job for a long time. If at some point in the future she decides she wants to move into the men’s game, that would be a really interesting discussion but that’s for her, right?

“I don’t think we should view it as a step up. If she decides at some point in the future to go in a different direction, I think she’s perfectly capable.

“If and when we get a vacancy in either of our senior men’s or women’s manager positions, we would go for the best person for the job, which would be the best person capable of winning matches.”

Wiegman’s current contract runs out in the summer of 2025, which would see her through England’s European title defence, with next summer’s Paris 2024 Olympics a possibility – though not a guarantee – should the new Nations League result in a qualification for Team GB.

The rampant rumour mill has Wiegman shortlisted as a potential candidate to replace United States boss Vlatko Andonovski, who is expected to step down after the double-defending champions were knocked out by Sweden for a worst-ever last-16 finish.

Wiegman has a strong affinity for the United States, where she played for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and was awed by the infrastructure that already existed around women’s football in late-1980s America.

But asked if the FA would reject an approach should the United States come courting the three-time FIFA Best award winner, Bullingham instantly replied: “100 per cent. It is not about money. We are very, very happy with her and we feel she is happy.

“We’ve seen lots of rumours, and look, she is a special talent. We know that. From our side, she’s obviously contracted through until 2025. We think she’s doing a great job. We’re obviously huge supporters of her and I think hopefully she feels the same way.”

Bullingham said the FA would wait until after Wiegman takes a well-deserved post-tournament holiday before striking up any conversations about extending her stay at St George’s Park.

While Bullingham believes Wiegman could have any job in football, he admitted it could still be some time before an England women’s manager would be compensated equally to his or her men’s counterpart.

He added: “I think over time, I think there’s where you’ve got to get to. If you look at the disparity in the market and the income coming in, that’s why you’ve got a difference.

“I would say that Sarina is, within the market she operates, well-paid. And if you look at the comparison in the men’s game, it’s a different market. I really want those markets to merge, over time, and I think that’s where you’ve got to go, but we’re not there yet.”

Rachel Daly’s former school teacher has hailed the Lioness as a “one-off” player as England aim for World Cup glory on Sunday.

Sarina Wiegman’s side reached their first ever World Cup final with a 3-1 win against co-hosts Australia on Wednesday in front of 75,784 in Sydney.

Aston Villa forward Daly, the WSL’s top scorer last season, has played a key part in their campaign – often featuring at wing-back for the side and scored in England’s 6-1 victory against China in the group stages.

The 31-year-old started her career at Killinghall Nomads in Yorkshire and Michael Sweetman, who was her teacher at Rossett School, admitted her mental and physical attributes stood out from an early age.


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Mr Sweetman told the PA news agency: “She was a one-off, she was completely different and the attributes she had, those winning attributes, it’s just pure focus on winning the game.

“It can in some ways not be great, but on a football pitch it’s ideal, it’s perfect. She’s been a success at every team she’s played in and that’s why I think, but she had the physical attributes as well.

“She wasn’t amazingly quick or amazingly fit, but she just played the game. Her touch was amazing, she was strong and nothing fazed her.

“She could take a boot, get up and get on with it. She’s skilful, she’d play up front or in midfield for me and she scored two or three a game.”

England are aiming to achieve back-to-back success in a major tournament final after their European Championship win at Wembley last year.

Daly was part of that Lionesses squad and Mr Sweetman reflected on how far she has come in her England career.

“I definitely believed she’d play for England, whether I believed she’d get to a World Cup final I don’t think you could ever comprehend that really,” he added.

“You just want your kids to achieve the best they can be, so to get to England is great.

“I actually rang the FA when she was 14 and asked them to come down and watch her. They came down to a final at Harrogate Town and we beat a school in York 5-0 I think, she scored two and that was the start of it.”

Beginning her domestic career with Leeds, Daly moved over to America to play in college for St John’s University and was selected by the Houston Dash the 2016 NWSL draft.

She spent six seasons in Texas before moving to the Women’s Super League last year to play for Aston Villa, where she instantly made a mark in her debut season finishing with 22 goals.

Those performances earned Daly the Barclays WSL’s Player of the Season award and on Wednesday she was nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.

Mr Sweetman expressed his pride at her success, adding: “I don’t want to say I feel responsible, because I’m not, I was a small part for five years and basically I just let her play.

“The only thing I did differently was that football was just developing at the time.

“They were trying to say that there may be careers ahead and if you can keep playing, keep improving on your game maybe you could go to America or you could do this or you could do that.

“I never say I was responsible but the only thing I did let her do was let her play football with the boys in PE.

“You don’t feel responsible, but there is a sense of pride that one of your kids that you did your best to nurture during those years is playing at the highest level.”

England head coach Sarina Wiegman and Spain boss Jorge Vilda will lead their teams into the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the two coaches.

Dutch courage brings England Euro joy

Having guided her native Netherlands to success at Euro 2017 and then on into final of the 2019 World Cup, where they lost to the United States, Wiegman took over the Lionesses in September 2021. Wiegman – a former captain of the Dutch national team during her playing career and also having a spell as a PE teacher – went on to lead England to Euro 2022 glory on home soil with victory over Germany at Wembley last summer. The only defeat so far of Wiegman’s tenure came in a friendly against Australia at Brentford in April – and England fans will be hoping that impressive run is extended again on Sunday.

Vilda steadies ship after player unrest

Vilda had spells in the youth set-ups at both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but saw his dreams of a playing career cut short by two major knee injuries when he was 17. Having moved into a coaching role at CD Canillas in Madrid, Vilda held assistant roles with Spain’s Under-17s and Under-19s, enjoying success in their European Championship and World Cup campaigns. He was appointed senior head coach of the women’s national team in 2015, taking them into the Euro 2017 quarter-finals and also the World Cup, where they reached the last 16. Following Euro 2022, where La Roja were beaten by hosts England in the quarter-finals, a group of 15 players threatened to quit if Vilda remained in his position, claiming his regime was affecting their “health” and “emotional state”. He, though, was backed by the Spanish Football Federation, with the players subsequently frozen out of his squad, before some returned to the fold for the World Cup, including Aitana Bonmati, Ona Batlle and Mariona Caldentey.

Same again for Lionesses?

Wiegman named an unchanged side for the 3-1 semi-final win over against Australia. Her faith proved well-founded as England stepped up to the challenge of restricting the counter-attack threat of the Matildas, although there was little the well-drilled defence could do to prevent Sam Kerr crashing in a fine 25-yard equaliser. England had plenty of possession against Australia, particularly in the first half, and will certainly need to show similar bravery in their challenges against the Spaniards. Some ruthless finishing saw Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo all on the scoresheet on Tuesday – and more of the same will be needed in the final when clear chances are expected to be at a premium. Chelsea forward Lauren James will be available again following a two-game ban following her red card in the last-16 win over Nigeria, handing a potential selection headache for Wiegman.

La Roja’s own ‘Total Football’

Vilda grew up steeped in Johan Cruyff’s football philosophy, with his father Angel having worked as the late Dutchman’s fitness trainer at Barcelona. Based around a 4-3-3 possession-based game, Vilda wants his team to play with a distinctly recognisable style. That belief never waivered as Spain bounced back from a 4-0 humbling by Group C winners Japan to thrash Switzerland 5-1 as they booked a place in the last eight, then went on to beat the Netherlands after extra-time before defeating Sweden in Auckland. England should expect to face high-tempo passing and movement as well as a relentless press in attack. Alexia Putellas, twice a Ballon d’Or winner, continues to be used sparingly in the tournament, having worked her way back from an ACL injury which ruled her out of Euro 2022. Teenager Salma Paralluelo came off the bench to open the scoring in the semi-final against Sweden and the 19-year-old will be out to prove herself the woman for the big occasion once more if given another opportunity by Vilda on Sunday.

England boss Sarina Wiegman believes simply nullifying the threat posed by Australia striker Sam Kerr will not be enough to see the Lionesses through to a first-ever World Cup final.

The European champions take on the Matildas in their semi-final tonight at 11 am BST at Sydney’s sold-out Stadium Australia, where the majority of the 75,000 in attendance will be backing the co-hosts.

Captain Kerr is her country’s leading goal-scorer of either gender, but has not yet started a match in the global showpiece after injuring her calf pre-tournament, making her much-anticipated return as a substitute in Australia’s 2-0 last-16 victory over Denmark.

Though the Chelsea forward is, at least in Australia, the poster-woman for this tournament, Wiegman insisted: “Australia is not just Sam Kerr. Yes, we have a plan [if she starts]. She can play and she can start on the bench, so that’s the situation. Of course she is a threat, she’s a very good player, so a lot of respect [to her].

“But there is more than Sam Kerr, because at the end it is always a team performance. When the team does really well an individual can do even better. That’s the same for Australia and it’s the same for England.

“There is a lot of pressure on her because everyone expects things from her. I think Australia have grown in the tournament too, they had some difficult situations they had to come back from and they did really well. We expect a very strong Australia tomorrow.”

The winner of Wednesday night’s contest will take on Spain for the trophy, after they beat Sweden 2-1 on Tuesday to book their trip to the final.

Kerr’s calf was arguably the most talked-about calf in Australian history when it was announced she would miss the first two matches of the Matildas’ World Cup campaign, and speculation has swirled about her fitness ever since.

The 29-year-old declared she would be available for Australia’s final group stage contest against Canada but remained on the bench, before appearing to a raucous reception for the first time in the 80th minute against Denmark.

She featured more in her side’s quarter-final against France, coming on for Emily van Egmond in the 55th minute and scoring one of the penalties that would see Australia win a 7-6 shootout and advance to the final four for the first time.

England captain Millie Bright, Kerr’s club team-mate at Women’s Super League champions Chelsea, echoed her manager’s assessment, adding: “I think everyone knows [Sam] pretty well. On the worldwide stage, I think she’s made a name for herself.

“It’s pretty hard not to know Sam and her abilities, but like Sarina said there’s other players in the team. I think we’re prepared to play against Australia as a team.”

Those other players have stepped up considerably in their skipper’s absence. Mary Fowler and Hayley Raso – who has netted three times this tournament – are emerging alongside Kerr as new household names Down Under.

It remains to be seen if Kerr will make her first World Cup start against England, or if Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson will once again use her as a talismanic threat off the bench – either way, Wiegman insists England have a plan.

Gustavsson perhaps hinted at the latter in his press conference on the eve of their historic encounter, where one side will become a World Cup finalist for the first time,

The Swedish boss said: “We’ll look at all of this trying to start as strong as possible, but finish even stronger. Meaning, what kind of starting line-up do we want to have, what finishing 11 do we want to have?

“What kind of tools and game-changing do we think we need in a game like this? Type of players, whether it’s speed or aerial presence. There will be some tough decisions to be made because a lot of players deserve to start, but a lot of players also deserve to finish the game and win it for us.”

Sarina Wiegman admits she was unaware of just how big the rivalry is between England and Australia after Alessia Russo’s winner against Colombia sealed a 2-1 win and set up a World Cup semi-final with the co-hosts.

The Lionesses fell behind after 44 minutes of their last-eight contest in Sydney when Leicy Santos looped the ball over England keeper Mary Earps, but saw her effort cancelled out before the break when Lauren Hemp pounced on an error from Colombian keeper Catalina Perez in stoppage time.

Russo completed the comeback with a fine low finish from Georgia Stanway’s delivery, the 2-1 result enough to book England a third trip to a World Cup final four – an encounter that has already drawn comparisons to the Ashes.

Asked if she was aware of the perennial rivalry between the two countries, England’s Dutch boss replied: “I just think it is going to be really big, but I’ve had a couple of questions about that now so it’s probably going to be bigger than I imagined now.

“So I’ll talk to my players and staff and see what that rivalry is then. I think the Australians and English can get along really well, and we’ve had such a warm welcome here, we’ve really enjoyed our time here in Australia, and I actually really like the people here.

“But that doesn’t mean there’s no rivalry, so we’ll see that Wednesday.”

In April, Australia became the only side to have beaten England under Wiegman’s now nearly two-year tenure, when goals from Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant fired the Matildas to a 2-0 victory at Brentford.

This has so far been a tournament of fine margins for the Lionesses, who outside of their 6-1 victory over China in the group stage have enjoyed dominant spells but never matches, and on Saturday night in Sydney were up against a Colombia side whose supporters turned the 75,000-plus seat Stadium Australia into an away contest for England.

Bethany England, who came on as a substitute for the third time this tournament, believes the raucous Colombia crowd is the perfect dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s semi-final against the co-hosts, who beat France 7-6 on penalties to advance to the final four for the first time.

Though that match took place in Brisbane, thousands of Matildas fans packed the parks outside Stadium Australia before England’s match, some even climbing trees to get a better view of their own quarter-final and the deciding shoot-out.

England said: “I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing. I thought the crowd tonight was incredible. Every time we touched the ball they were booing but I think you just relish it because these are the atmosphere you want from stadiums. 75,000 and the Australian fans are going to bring a nice big bit of noise through. It’s going to be interesting and entertaining for everyone.

“We’ve been in this situation where we’ve had a lot of noise. The Euros last year at Old Trafford, Wembley. It’s nothing these girls aren’t used to now. We are getting in more and more in the women’s game. Selling out, getting big crowds and not being able to think. So it’s just going to be an exciting game and a special one.”

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