Jordan Nobbs vs Katie Zelem, Ebony Salmon vs Beth England & the big selection decisions Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman must make ahead of the Women's World Cup

Comments (0)
Jordan Nobbs Beth England Ebony Salmon Katie Zelem composite
Ahead of her first global tournament as England coach, Wiegman has a number of dilemmas to solve when it comes to naming her final squad

Last summer, Sarina Wiegman led England to a first-ever major tournament triumph at Euro 2022. Now, they have their sights set on glory at the 2023 Women's World Cup.

As the tournament's big kick-off in July approaches, there are a number of decisions the Lionesses' boss has to make when it comes to who will be in her 23-player squad.

While there are some names almost certain to be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand, be it captain Leah Williamson or centre forward Alessia Russo, there are also places still well up for grabs as we enter the final international breaks before Wiegman finalises her choices.

So, what are the selection dilemmas the coach may be weighing up in her head?

GOAL takes a look at some of those battling for a place on the plane...

  1. Maya Le Tissier vs Lotte Wubben-Moy

    Maya Le Tissier vs Lotte Wubben-Moy

    In her Euro 2022 squad, Wiegman had four centre-backs - Williamson, Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood and Lotte Wubben-Moy.

    The former two are her starting partnership in the heart of defence, so are almost certain to go to the World Cup. Greenwood's place in the squad also feels very secure, such is her form and regular game time.

    Who, then, will complete the quartet and ensure there's enough cover in such a crucial position?

    Wubben-Moy is well in contention to head to a second successive major tournament but, this time around, she faces even tougher competition due to the incredible season Maya Le Tissier is having.

    Le Tissier joined Manchester United in the summer and has been a staple of the team ever since. The 20-year-old has been so good - one of the league's best players, even - that she earned her first senior call-up earlier this campaign.

    The game time she's getting in the north west could give her the edge over Wubben-Moy, who isn't a guaranteed starter for Arsenal. That said, she still plays very regularly and she's shown that she's excellent at coming into high pressure situations or stepping up when someone is injured.

    Both are versatile - the latter capable in holding midfield while Le Tissier is equally good at right-back - and brilliant on the ball, with it certain to be a difficult choice for Wiegman when it comes to picking between them.

    The Dutchwoman has called both into her Arnold Clark Cup squad, with her likely to take every opportunity possible to assess and analyse who will be best for her final group of 23.

  2. Jess Carter vs Esme Morgan vs Niamh Charles

    Jess Carter vs Esme Morgan vs Niamh Charles

    Something that's interesting about England's current pool of players is the number of 'utility' players Wiegman has available to her.

    Rachel Daly is someone who has made an international career out of being such a versatile footballer, her rise to prominence in an England shirt coming in basically every position but her preferred No.9 role.

    There are more following that path now, too. Jess Carter won her first England cap when she was playing in midfield - now she's more commonly seen at right-back, centre-back and even left-back.

    Niamh Charles came through at Liverpool as either a No.10 or a winger. Today, she still operates in those roles with Chelsea often, but it's just as common to see her playing as a full-back on either side.

    Then there's Esme Morgan, the Manchester City youth product who can play all across the back line.

    All three offer Wiegman a real luxury in her squads, able to provide cover in a number of areas, but not all three will go to the World Cup. Often in her squads, there's room for just two of the three.

    For the Arnold Clark Cup, that is Charles and Carter. It feels like a particularly good chance for the latter to impress given she generally gets the least amount of game time at her club and missed the November camp.

    Morgan is the most regular starter of the trio but has been out for a couple of weeks with an injury. When fit, she may have the edge when it comes to regular minutes.

    Who makes the final cut won't only depend on minutes and form, though. It'll also come down to what is needed to round out the final squad and ensure each position is covered adequately.

  3. Katie Zelem vs Jordan Nobbs

    Katie Zelem vs Jordan Nobbs

    Wiegman's England squads do not normally contain many midfield options - often just five or, at a push, six.

    With it anticipated that Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone and Fran Kirby, if fit, will make up four of those spots, competition among the rest of the midfielders is very fierce.

    Two names at the forefront of the race are Katie Zelem and Jordan Nobbs. They do not play the same midfield role, but limited numbers in the area means it feels like they're battling it out for a seat on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.

    Nobbs was not initially in the squad for England's February games, but was later called in as an injury replacement for Kirby. It's widely accepted that Nobbs is one of her country's most outstanding players when fit and in form. The Arnold Clark Cup is a great opportunity for her to prove that.

    The 30-year-old left Arsenal in January, joining Aston Villa for more game time in order to try and make the World Cup squad. She's started well, too, and if she can maintain a consistent high level of form for the rest of the season, she's certainly in with a shot.

    She'll need to be playing well, too, because those she is competing with for a place certainly are - especially Zelem. In fact, the Manchester United captain is in the form of her life.

    Operating in a deeper midfield role, Zelem is a regular in Wiegman's squads, but doesn't often get many opportunities on the pitch. Part of that is because Walsh plays so many minutes for England and it's difficult to get ahead of a player of her quality.

    That said, Zelem is really the only player that can provide cover in that area. Although there are players who can adapt to play there if necessary, that could work in her favour when it comes to the final cut.

    Nobbs, meanwhile, can play a variety of midfield roles - something that probably doesn't apply to Zelem. She can hold and dictate play, she can operate box-to-box or be the creative playmaker.

    It's an interesting decision Wiegman has to make when it comes to completing her midfield selection, with it likely to, again, come down to what sort of options she wants to have available, as well as form.

  4. Nikita Parris vs Jess Park

    Nikita Parris vs Jess Park

    Perhaps the most unpredictable area of Wiegman's final squad will be the forwards. The Dutch coach already surprised many by calling up Katie Robinson to recent camps, an exciting selection who has shown her quality but was not an obvious choice.

    Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo feel like sure bets to be on the plane, as well as Lauren James. But that leaves at least two more spots open, if not three.

    Another interesting selection by Wiegman in recent camps has been Jess Park, an exciting young talent who has impressed on loan at Everton this season. At times, her selection has come at the expense of a more experienced winger in Nikita Parris - including for the Arnold Clark Cup.

    Parris was part of the squad that won Euro 2022 and made a positive transfer in the summer when she joined Manchester United, having struggled for game time at Arsenal last season.

    She's shown bursts of good form since and is a valuable asset for any team with her work rate, energy and experience. But she is facing stern competition for her place at club level - and now at international level, too.

    With the aforementioned quartet feeling assured of spots on the plane, there only feels like room for one more winger (and one more centre forward, but we'll get to that next). That'll likely either be Park, Parris or Robinson.

    It's the former two who feel in stronger positions to make the cut - though that certainly doesn't rule out the latter, who has actually created significantly more chances than Parris or Park in the league this season.

    It'll all come down to who impresses the most, with their clubs and in England camps, over the next few months.

  5. Ebony Salmon vs Beth England

    Ebony Salmon vs Beth England

    At Euro 2022, Ellen White started every game as England won the title, with Russo replacing her off the bench in each outing to star in a supporting role - scoring four goals.

    Now, with White's retirement, Russo is the starting No.9. But who will be the player Wiegman picks to battle the Manchester United star for her place at the World Cup?

    There are only two names in the player pool who regular play through the middle for their clubs - Beth England and Ebony Salmon.

    England moved clubs in January for more game time and already has four goals in her first five appearances for Tottenham. It's that kind of form which can get her back into the Lionesses' squad, with her not included in the list of players for the Arnold Clark Cup.

    Salmon, however, has been called up, despite being out of season. She plays her club football in the U.S. for the Houston Dash, but the NWSL doesn't start until late March.

    That's certainly a good omen for the young forward, who hasn't always been given a lot of opportunities in terms of minutes in games but had a really good camp in November. When the World Cup rolls around this summer, Salmon should be bang in form as well, approaching the midway point of her season.

    This is going to be one of the most intriguing battles for a spot in the squad. It feels like a straight shootout, quite literally, until Wiegman's final decision is made, with both players out to show goal-scoring exploits that will make them impossible to leave at home.