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Sarina Wiegman demands calendar change as Leah Williamson earns first England call since ACL injury

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Published Time: 13.02.2024 - 17:40:23 Modified Time: 13.02.2024 - 17:40:23

The England captain is back in Wiegman's squad for upcoming friendlies against Austria and Italy later this month PA/Steven Paston Leah Williamson is back in the England squad for the first time since the knee injury she suffered 10 months ago

The England captain is back in Wiegman's squad for upcoming friendlies against Austria and Italy later this month

: PA/Steven Paston

Leah Williamson is back in the England squad for the first time since the knee injury she suffered 10 months ago.

Williamson was one of 37 players from around the globe to miss last year’s Women’s World Cup because of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries alone and, speaking exclusively to Telegraph Sport in January, she raised major concerns about the congested international calendar and the lack of a four-week off-season break.

Head coach Sarina Wiegman has echoed Williamson’s view, saying: “I am very worried about that. What you want, what the players ask all the time too, is ‘Where is rest for us?’ Because they want to compete, we want the players fit and fresh, which means that you always also need rest, a proper rest.”

England will play friendlies against Austria and Italy this month then European Championship 2025 qualifiers in April, across the first weekend in June and again in the middle of July, giving them a busy summer schedule despite missing out on qualifying for this year’s Olympics on behalf on Team GB. Wiegman added: “You need to train in between June and July too, so we have had conversations with clubs. These have been very good conversations, but we still don’t have a solution for that period.

“And I think that Fifa and Uefa need to solve that for the players. Hopefully Fifa and Uefa solve it. When we talk about the calendar from 2025 onwards, this really needs to be solved. Things really need to be changed.”

However, asked whether she would consider resting some of the World Cup players for any of this summer’s camps, Wiegman appeared to rule that out because of the importance of those qualifiers for the Euros. “I’m not willing to do that ahead of situations, because we want to the best players on the pitch in the squad and we want to win,” she said. “We want to make the chance of winning as high as possible.

“And, if I rest a player while the player feels that she is fit and fresh, they really want to play. So they don’t want me to say ‘Ok, I’m going to rest you’, while she thinks she’s ready to play.”

Wiegman stopped short of confirming whether Williamson would be re-named as England captain – she will speak to the squad first – but it is highly anticipated that the Arsenal centre-back will skipper the Lionesses for their upcoming warm-weather camp in Marbella, Spain.

England sqaud for European Championship qualifiers 

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