England Women: Captain Leah Williamson and Chelsea's Fran Kirby return to Lionesses squad for Arnold Clark Cup

England Women: Captain Leah Williamson and Chelsea's Fran Kirby return to Lionesses squad for Arnold Clark Cup

Captain Leah Williamson and Chelsea's Fran Kirby return to Sarina Wiegman's 26-player England squad for the Arnold Clark Cup, but there is no place for Aston Villa's Jordan Nobbs or Tottenham's Bethany England.

Williamson and Kirby are back in the Lionesses camp after missing out on the last squad through injury and add some experience to a line-up including 10 players who have played less than 10 games for their country.

Uncapped goalkeeper Emily Ramsey is among the new faces in the squad, while Maya Le Tissier, Jessica Park and Katie Robinson are all looking to add to their single caps so far.

Manchester City midfielder Laura Coombs also returns to the squad eight years after winning the last of her two international caps following a strong domestic season in the WSL to date - including a Fans' Player of the Month award in December.

The injured Beth Mead misses out on the squad from Wiegman's last announcement, along with Manchester City's Esme Morgan and Manchester United forward Nikita Parris. Everton defender Gabby George also drops out, only days after she was named WSL Player of the Month for January.

Wiegman admitted it will be "difficult" for Spurs' England, Nobbs and Villa team-mate Lucy Staniforth to work their way into her World Cup squad, despite all three moving clubs in January to enhance their England credentials.

They will have to make their cases to the England manager in the final months of the season but are running out of time with the Finalissima against Brazil in April the Lionesses' only scheduled game after the Arnold Clark Cup, before Wiegman names her squad to travel to Australia and New Zealand.

"This tournament is very important for the preparation for the World Cup, with three matches in eight days so we can see lots of players, lots of combinations and we can try out some things. We need that information to get ready for the World Cup.

"[Staniforth, Nobbs and England] are competing for selection. Lucy was a little further ahead, but of course we keep an eye on her too. We have conversations with them all the time, they're in a good place, they can improve their games as they are playing all the time now, but you can't control what your competitors do and what choices I make along with my technical staff.

"That's the situation they're in right now, and we can at least see now where they're at, how they're improving and what their situation is. Then we look at what the competitors are doing and make a choice. It's good they're getting minutes, but it doesn't guarantee selection.

"Yes it's difficult [for them to make the World Cup squad], but it's difficult for others too. There are some youngsters in this squad, and they have to prove themselves. But we're going to try some things, and see some players who we might not have seen much of before. Everyone has to show consistency in their performances."

Bethany England and Jordan Nobbs were both brave in January. They broke with the comfort of their London clubs in Chelsea and Arsenal, whom they had been at for seven and 10 years respectively, in search of fresh opportunities. England had fallen down the pecking order at Chelsea, while Nobbs' role at Arsenal had been blighted by prolonged injury spells. Both want and need to play more in an attempt to return to the international picture.

While this meet may have come too soon, it's clear both players have done the right thing. England was on the scoresheet for Spurs against her former employers at the weekend and Nobbs is getting consistent game-time at Aston Villa. "They're competing for selection," Wiegman confirmed. "It's not set in stone now," she added in reference to this summer's 23-player World Cup squad.

The door is importantly ajar. They have five months to prove that a change of scenery can indeed yield results - enough to warrant a place on the plane for July's tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Ahead of Nobbs is Manchester City's Laura Coombs, among others. The 32-year-old midfielder is proof that recalls are possible. She's been in scintillating form for City this term and has rightly caught the eye of Wiegman as a result. There is no reason why others can't do the same.

"Everyone has to prove themselves," remains Wiegman's chief message.

Wiegman admits picking her World Cup squad will be tough this summer.

She's picked a 26-player roster for February's matches and there are a group of established WSL names who face a battle to get back in the team.

To make matters worse, Wiegman will only be able to pick a squad of 23 players for the World Cup in Australia due to FIFA deciding against bigger playing parties.

To add to the player welfare criticism, Wiegman admits she's "disappointed" from a football perspective too.

Picking this squad was tough enough, just ask Nobbs and England. There could be even more casualties come the summer.

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