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England replaces Chelsea team-mate Kirby in England squad for 2023 Women's World Cup qualifiers vs North Macedonia & Northern Ireland

16:41 BST 29/03/2022
England, FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Qualifier
The Lionesses hope to preserve their perfect record in the World Cup qualifying group when they take on North Macedonia and Northern Ireland

Chelsea star Beth England has returned to the England women's team for the World Cup qualifying matches against North Macedonia and Northern Ireland.

England has not featured for the national team since November, but comes in to replace Chelsea team-mate Fran Kirby, who has been out of action for the London club with fatigue.

Steph Houghton is still absent from the squad after having an operation in late February.

What has been said?

Coach Sarina Wiegman named 24 players in the squad for the 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifying matches.

“I am really looking forward to getting the group back together and hope we can continue our progress as we aim to qualify for the World Cup," the Dutch coach said.

"We will need to be fully focused as I expect both our opponents to give all they can.

“Every time we play, we want to perform to our best and do what is necessary to get a good result. That will be no different for these two important fixtures.

“It is also another opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves for the Euros, particularly against a team we will play in our final group stage match.

"For now though we have to think only about these next games, working hard to improve our style of play and performing well to get positive results.”

When do England play?

England will meet North Macedonia in Skopje on April 8 before travelling to Belfast to face Northern Ireland four days later.

Wiegman's team are top of Group D with a perfect record after six matches and four left to play.

England are five points clear of nearest rivals Austria, with only the group winners qualifying automatically.

The squad in full

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Man Utd), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Man City)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Man City), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Man City), Demi Stokes (Man City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City), Katie Zelem (Man Utd)

Forwards: Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Man City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Man Utd), Ella Toone (Man Utd), Ellen White (Man City)

Further reading