Wiegman's England face the Netherlands at Wembley on Friday December 1, before travelling to Hampden Park to face Scotland on Tuesday December 5; England need to finish top of Nations League Group A1 for Team GB to qualify for Paris 2024 Olympics
Wednesday 22 November 2023 08:52, UK
Sarina Wiegman has handed Beth Mead her first Lionesses call-up since November 2022 ahead of December's crunch Nations League fixtures.
England face the Netherlands at Wembley on Friday December 1, before travelling to Hampden Park to face Scotland on Tuesday December 5.
Mead, 28, earned her 50th cap in a 4-0 win over Japan on November 11 last year, but ruptured her ACL during the Gunners' 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at the Emirates just over a week later.
Speaking in October, Wiegman revealed Mead was "in a good place, but not close to an England call", yet she has since returned for her club and made her first start in exactly 12 months during Sunday's 3-0 win at Brighton.
"She's played minutes, she's in a good place and still building, too. But that was a very nice phone call [to make]. She was very happy," Wiegman said in her press conference at St George's Park, shortly after the squad was announced.
"We had conversations [with Arsenal] before and after the September camp and in October, too, because she was already fully training, but I wanted to see a little more and that's what we've seen now.
"Her health is really good, so she can just go and she has showed in games that she is in a good place. She has shown me and my technical staff enough to bring her in.
"She is a character that brings positive energy on the pitch and off the pitch. With her experience and the way she plays, she's different to other players on the wing, which is good for the team, so we have different options again."
Manchester City pair Ellie Roebuck and Jess Park, as well Aston Villa's Lucy Parker were selected in October, but miss out on this occasion, with Tottenham's Grace Clinton and Manchester City's Khiara Keating retaining their places as they wait for their senior international debuts.
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), Khiara Keating (Manchester City).
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal).
Midfielders: Grace Clinton (Tottenham), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United).
Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Arsenal).
England head coach Sarina Wiegman:
"We absolutely do [need to win the last two games]. In the Belgium game, the difference from us to them was so big and we just didn't win it, which is not good, of course.
"That last result was not really a reflection of how we were in camp. So, yes, we are in a situation where we absolutely need wins and we know that. Whenever we go into a camp, we want to win games and we haven't done that lately in our games, so that's really what we want to do.
"But our approach will not all of a sudden change. We get prepared for the Netherlands first and the process will not be different because we still do good things, we just have to do better in moments of the game. In the final third, we create a lot of chances and we want to be more ruthless, but we have to be aware of the counter-attack and keep the ball better and be tighter on the ball.
"I'm always critical of myself. Even when we win, there are always things where you think we should have done this or done that, but that's really easy after a game or after a camp. The urgency to win is higher, but we are always under pressure to win games and we always want to win games. That's the expectation from the outside world, but also from ourselves, so it's pretty challenging.
"I'm actually really looking forward to the next camp. Hopefully Wembley is sold out again because it is almost sold out now and, of course, the team will be very eager to get a good result - and so will I."
England's destiny to get to the Nations League finals is out of their hands following a 3-2 defeat by Belgium last month.
They will need to top the group to go through to the Nations League semi-finals. To guarantee to make it through to next year's Olympic Games, they will have to go through to the final of the Nations League.
England need to win both of their remaining group games to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
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