Leah Williamson enjoys England’s fight for places ahead of France double-header | football news

Leah Williamson says she is ready to fight for a place in England’s defense for the double-header against France, starting with Friday night’s clash at St James’ Park.

England coach Sarina Wiegman could pair centre-backs Williamson and Millie Bright, winners of Euro 2022, for the first time since February last year, both recovered from knee injuries.

Arsenal defender Williamson and Chelsea’s Bright have not started together for their country since the 6-1 thrashing of Belgium at Ashton Gate.

However, Williamson, who suffered an ACL injury in April last year, is taking nothing for granted as he looks to return to the line-up for the Euro 2025 qualifiers against France, with central defense a strong point of the lioness.

Williamson said: “It’s the first time obviously Millie and I have been back together in the team for a long time, so it’s been nice in that sense.

“I think we have a really strong unit. I mentioned my return to the team because of how well they performed and how they raised the level, so it’s good to be back.

“It’s a competitive unit to try to get into. I think I look forward to the challenge, as everyone does.”

James ruled out for double match

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Sarina Wiegman says it is too early for Lauren James to face France in England’s Euro 2025 qualifier due to underlying foot injury

Wiegman and England suffered a major blow ahead of the double-header after Lauren James was forced to withdraw from the team.

The 22-year-old forward reported to the squad with a foot injury and has had to admit defeat in her efforts to prove her fitness ahead of Friday’s Group A3 match at St James’ Park and the trip to St- Etienne who follows on Tuesday. .

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Tottenham striker Jessica Naz says it will be a “proud moment” when she makes her senior England debut

Wiegman, who confirmed that Tottenham’s Jess Naz had been selected for the team from the reserve list, said when asked if everyone was fit: “No, not everyone is available for selection.

“Lauren James didn’t make it, so she’s not selected for tomorrow. Jess Naz will be added to the group.

“She already had some foot problems at her club so she came and we were hoping to work until tomorrow but it’s too early so unfortunately she can’t stay with us.”

Lauren James was sent off in the second half against Nigeria after a VAR reference

Asked if that would apply to returning to France, Wiegman added: “Yes. She will prepare for the July window.

“Of course, it’s disappointing. We did everything, she did everything, but now it’s too early and it’s not good enough. You have to really be in the best shape, in the best shape to be ready for tomorrow.”

“For her and for the team, it is unfortunate. For Jess, she is ready, she has shown very well this week in training and with her club, so we have to move on.”

Bright: Beating France would be huge

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Millie Bright accepts she will have to fight off tough competition to start for England against France on Friday after returning from injury.

Bright insists a win against France would be a statement of victory for this England team.

“It would be huge,” he said. “It’s an extremely competitive group and France are an incredible team and pose a lot of threats.

Bright Millie

“But there are many things we can do to threaten them. We have to be extremely prepared. We know it will be two difficult games.

“But it would be a huge message and, as always, we are not looking for anything more than wins and a good performance.”

Women’s qualification for Euro 2025: explanation of the new format

England captain Leah Williamson lifts the Arnold Clark Cup trophy after their 6-1 victory over Belgium.

Inspired by the Nations League, qualifiers were divided into League A, League B and League C, based on their standings in the Nations League.

England have matches against the Republic of Ireland, France and Sweden to look forward to as they begin the defense of their trophy.

As in a regular Nations League or European Qualifiers campaign, each team will play each other twice, once at home and once away, in a table format.

The two best teams in each of the League A groups will automatically qualify for Euro 2025.

The third and fourth place teams will enter the play-offs, along with the teams from League B and C.

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