It’s an exciting time for the England women’s side, who arrive at the Women’s World Cup among the tournament favourites, but also in perhaps the most uncertain state after two years of largely smooth sailing.
The Lionesses are the European champions, a victory that radically changed women’s football in England in terms of popularity and expectations.
“With this England team, everyone expects us to win,” said coach Sarina Wegman.
But in this World Cup England are arguably underpowered champions. In the months since claiming their European title, what began with the loss of one regular starter through injury, striker Beth Meade, has become three. Midfielder Fran Kirby will miss the World Cup after undergoing knee surgery. Lea Williamson, who captained England when they invaded, had, like Mead, torn knee ligaments.
Recent findings have proven similarly troubling. A goalless draw in a behind closed doors friendly against Canada, England’s final match before the World Cup, was the team’s third successive goalless performance.
Nevertheless, Wegman remains pragmatic and steadfast. Time and time again in her latest interview, she returns to the same questions that have become the focus of her and her team: “What do we want to do? How do we want to play? What are the roles and tasks on the team?”