England Women vs Northern Ireland: World Cup 2023 qualifier preview, team news, stats, kick-off time

The experienced Man City duo of Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze continue to be absent through injury; follow England Women vs Northern Ireland Women on the Sky Sports website and Sky Sports Scores app - kick-off 5.15pm; Free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website

Ella Toone recently made her first start for England Women
Image: Ella Toone recently made her first start for England Women

Team news, stats and how to follow England vs Northern Ireland in the Lionesses' first competitive match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm).

Karen Carney has backed Ella Toone to use her impressive start to the season at Manchester United to push for a regular England spot.

Toone has caught the eye playing as a number 10 this campaign, scoring twice and providing three assists in the Women's Super League to help United reach fourth place in the table heading into the international break.

The 22-year-old only made her senior Lionesses debut earlier this year but has scored twice across her four caps.

Ella Toone celebrates with England team-mates
Image: Toone celebrates scoring with her England team-mates

She has also started both games under new boss Sarina Wiegman and will be looking to continue that run when England host Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Carney, England's third-most capped player having made 144 international appearances, has been impressed with Toone and thinks the former Manchester City youngster can make her mark ahead of Euro 2022 next summer.

"Ella has done really well to come in and play in that number 10 position," Carney said.

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"She has been assisting and doing very well for Manchester United and that is just putting herself in the best position - playing, week in week out for her club and playing well - that will put her in the frame.

Beth Mead is back in the England Women's squad after missing out under Hege Riise in February
Image: Beth Mead is also in line to play at Wembley

"Sarina hasn't got a lot of time, in terms of camp time and grass time she's going to have to really learn about these players quickly and showing her what you can do in the WSL could be key to that (being in the team at the Euros).

"She's been at a lot of games already, she probably knows something about the players already but the turnaround is quite quick before the tournament and the preparation time will be really key."

Carney also singled out two Arsenal players for praise, with Leah Williamson and Beth Mead starting the season well.

Williamson captained England in the comfortable wins over North Macedonia and Luxembourg last month, playing in a midfield role rather than the centre-back position she is more accustomed to at club level.

England's Leah Williamson during the UEFA Qualifier match at St Mary's, Southampton. Picture date: Friday September 17
Image: Leah Williamson was singled out by Karen Carney

"She's got loads of qualities and she's still young," Carney said of the 24-year-old. "She's heading in the right direction as well to keep getting better and has shown that with the start she has had to this season.

"She can play in midfield just as well as she can in defence - she has lots of big-game experience and that kind of thing is key for England and for the manager.

"Arsenal are top of the league and flying and that is no coincidence either - Beth Mead was the top assist provider for England at the 2019 World Cup and she is back to playing some of the best football of the last two years.

"Maybe Viv Miedema gets all the headlines but they are starting to get a real relationship now both of them - there are some people that will get the limelight but I don't think Beth will be bothered by that, she'll just want to keep doing what she's doing and performing the way that she has been."

Team news

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Manchester City midfielder Keira Walsh says England will focus on their own game when they face Northern Ireland in Women's World Cup qualifying.

The experienced Manchester City duo of Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze continue to be absent through injury.

Wiegman not ready to name permanent England captain

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England head coach Sarina Wiegman says she needs more time before deciding who will become the team's permanent captain

England Women head coach Sarina Wiegman says she is not yet ready to name a permanent captain and needs more time to assess her options.

Arsenal defender Leah Williamson captained the Lionesses in last month's World Cup qualifying wins over North Macedonia and Luxembourg in the absence of injured team-mate Steph Houghton.

Wiegman has confirmed Williamson will keep the armband for England's next two qualifiers against Northern Ireland at Wembley on Saturday and Latvia on Tuesday.

But the England boss says she needs more time to choose a permanent skipper, with Houghton and Lucy Bronze both still unavailable through injury.

"I'm not close yet," said Wiegman, when asked if she was ready to make her final decision."

Beth England: Don't call me a super-sub!

Beth England is well aware of the competition she faces at Chelsea and with the Lionesses
Image: Beth England is well aware of the competition she faces at Chelsea and with the Lionesses

Beth England is eager to shake off her super-sub tag but says she is pleased to contribute in whatever way she can for her country ahead of Saturday's historic Lionesses fixture.

Sarina Wiegman's side take on Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley, the first competitive England Women's international to be played at the stadium since it reopened in 2007.

Chelsea forward England may have to be content with a place on the bench, having also been used as a substitute during the games with North Macedonia and Luxembourg last month.

The 27-year-old scored in both fixtures and has also netted twice for her club off the bench this season, but insisted: "I don't think any player wants to be tagged as a super-sub.

"Ultimately we want to play every minute we can. I am obviously very happy and proud to contribute to the team because that is what we are here for. It is a team sport and any chance I get given I want to take.

"I think it is not a tag I would like to be known for but, again, if I am able to come on and can show I can impact and help the team, then it is never a bad thing, especially if I am scoring goals as well. I just wouldn't say on a personal preference it is my favourite thing to be called."

How to follow

Follow the latest score on the Sky Sports website and Sky Sports Scores app - kick-off 5.15pm. Free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later that evening.

Opta stats

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England manager Sarina Wiegman says she is looking forward to working with Hannah Hampton, Alessia Russo and Keira Walsh after naming the trio in her squad to face Northern Ireland and Latvia
  • England have won every game they have played against Northern Ireland (9/9) by an aggregate scoreline of 50-3; it's the Lionesses' best 100 per cent-win ratio against an opposing nation.
  • England have kept a clean sheet in each of their last five games against Northern Ireland in a run stretching back to March 1986, netting 26 goals themselves; only against Scotland between April 1989 - May 2001 have the Lionesses enjoyed a longer run without conceding against an opponent (a run of nine consecutive shut-outs on that occasion).
  • England have lost just one of their last 30 matches against fellow home nations (W27 D2, including Republic of Ireland), losing 2-0 to Scotland in the Cyprus Cup back in March 2011 (unbeaten in eight such games since then).
  • Northern Ireland have begun this World Cup qualifying campaign with back-to-back 4-0 victories against Luxembourg and Latvia, having won just one of their eight games in qualifying for the 2019 World Cup (L7). They've already scored twice as many goals (8) in qualifying for this tournament as they did in qualifying for the 2019 edition (4).

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England manager Sarina Wiegman says her squad will discuss the issue of online abuse after Georgia Stanway was targeted following her red card in the Manchester derby
  • England remain unbeaten in their last 62 qualifying matches for major tournaments (World Cup & EUROs including play-offs - W53 D9), keeping 14 clean sheets in their last 15 such games. Their last defeat in qualifying came against France in a play-off back in November 2002 (0-1).
  • England have scored 18 goals in their last two games with eleven different scorers (including own goals - eight against North Macedonia and 10 versus Luxembourg), as many goals as they had managed in their previous 12 matches in all competitions combined, while this is also the most goals the Three Lionesses have ever scored across a two-game period (previously 17 courtesy of a 4-1 win over Austria and a 13-0 win against Hungary in September/October 2005).
  • Northern Ireland's eight goals in this World Cup qualifying campaign have come from 68 attempts on goal, with six different players finding the back of the net (only Marissa Callaghan and Rachel Furness scoring more than once for the Green and White Army - with two each).
  • Ellen White has scored 15 goals in her last 15 games for England in all competitions, netting braces in each of the Lionesses' two games in this World Cup qualifying campaign.
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