England face their first pre-Euro Women’s Test on Thursday when they take on Belgium at Molineux.
Sarina Wiegman named her final 23-man squad for the tournament coming up on Wednesday and this week’s friendly is a chance for fans to see the team in action.
Former captain Steph Houghton will not feature this summer, having struggled with an Achilles problem since January, while Chelsea striker Fran Kirby and Man City striker Chloe Kelly have both overcome injury problems respective to take their place in Wiegman’s team.
The match against Belgium – who will also feature at Euro 2022 – is the first of three friendlies before England kick off their home tournament against Austria at Old Trafford on July 6.
The Lionesses will also face the Netherlands at Elland Road on June 24 before traveling to Switzerland for their final warm-up clash on June 30. After the match in Zurich, the Lionesses will return to St George’s Park to put the finishing touches on the preparations.
Will we have any indication of the starting XI against Austria?
Wiegman probably already has a clear idea of who she will start at Old Trafford on July 6 – but these friendlies will give her the chance to experiment, tinker and see who could claim her place.
All three goalkeepers – Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck and Hannah Hampton – are likely to play in the friendlies and expect to see each of the 23 named players give up a few minutes.
One of the most important aspects of these friendlies is to test England against better opposition. Despite a glut of goals under Wiegman so far, they have come up against the likes of Latvia, North Macedonia and Luxembourg.
There were already positive signs at the Arnold Clark Cup in March – an invitational tournament organized by the FA – which was won by the Lionesses ahead of Olympic gold medalists Euro 2022 favorites Canada. Spain and the German international power.
England have yet to lose a game under Wiegman – drawing only twice, albeit both in the Arnold Clark Cup – and it will be important to keep that momentum going ahead of those fixtures. The Lionesses will be aiming for three wins but also and perhaps more importantly, consistent performances.
What about Belgian women?
Belgium has made steady progress over the past decade. This summer represents their second appearance at a major tournament and their second consecutive European Championships.
The Red Flames finished third in their group at Euro 2017 behind eventual champions the Netherlands and Denmark, and will this time be in a group with France, Italy and Iceland.
The last time the two sides met was a 3-3 friendly draw in August 2019. England had led 2-0 but needed a late Nikita Parris penalty to secure the tie in tough form after finishing fourth this summer. World Cup.
Like England, Belgium head into Thursday’s friendly and the Euros with plenty of experience in their ranks. Janice Cayman has 124 international caps and is second on the all-time goalscoring list (47) behind Tessa Wullaert, who scored 65 goals in 106 caps.
It speaks volumes about the quality of the Belgian squad that seven of their 10 all-time cap holders are current players, and two more have retired within the past three years.
Much of their improvement is also due to long-time manager Ives Serneels, who has coached the national side since 2011. He is hoping to lead the Red Flames to the knockout stages for the first time in their history this summer.
Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports
Catch up on all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.
Additionally, Sky Sports’ essential football podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.
Euro 2022: The groups…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Euro 2022: The schedule…
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England v Austria – Kick off 8pm, Old Trafford
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway v Northern Ireland – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s
Friday July 8
Group B: Spain v Finland – Kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany v Denmark – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Saturday July 9
Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands v Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Sunday July 10
Group D: Belgium v Iceland – Kick off 5.00pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Monday July 11
Group A: Austria v Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
tuesday july 12
Group B: Denmark v Finland – Kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany v Spain – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden v Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands-Portugal – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy v Iceland – Kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
friday july 15
Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick off 8pm St Mary’s
Group A: Austria v Norway – Kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Saturday July 16
Group B: Finland v Germany – Kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark v Spain – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday July 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden v Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday July 18
Group D: Iceland vs France – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy v Belgium – Kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-Final 2: Group B Winners v Group A Runners-up 8pm, London Community Stadium
friday july 22
Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-Final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium
tuesday july 26
Semi-Final 1: Quarter-Final Winners 1 v Quarter-Final Winners 3 – Kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-Final 2: Winner Quarter-Final 2 v Winner Quarter-Final 4 – Kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners Semi-Final 1 v Winners Semi-Final 2 – Kick-off 5pm, Wembley