Mary Earps Leads England in Vital Nations League Showdown with Netherlands
|Mary Earps, Goalkeeper of Manchester United on the pitch during the Barclays Women´s Super League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on November 19, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Image-Getty)
In the pivotal Nations League match against the Netherlands, goalkeeper Mary Earps is set to assume the captain's armband for England, taking on the leadership role in the absence of Millie Bright, as confirmed by manager Sarina Wiegman on Thursday.
Millie Bright, who took over the captaincy after Leah Williamson's ACL injury and led the team to a runner-up finish in this year's Women's World Cup, withdrew from the squad due to a knee injury. She will undergo treatment with Chelsea, leaving a void that Mary Earps will fill as the team's captain.
Wiegman addressed Bright's injury during a press conference, stating, "She wasn't available for Chelsea before, so we knew. We always anticipate different scenarios when someone is unavailable. Mary will captain the team tomorrow."
Having suffered a 3-2 defeat to Belgium in their previous Nations League game, England currently occupies the third position in Group A1. The upcoming match against the Netherlands at Wembley is crucial for England, as they must secure a victory to have a chance of winning the group and advancing to next year's finals.
Commenting on the formidable Dutch team, Wiegman acknowledged their experience, noting, "They have an experienced team; most of their squad has played in big occasions. They'll be excited to be there and to play at Wembley."
Friday's game could mark the return of Beth Mead to the England squad after an extended absence due to an ACL injury. Despite missing the World Cup, Mead has made a successful comeback in club football for Arsenal, scoring twice in a recent 3-0 victory over West Ham United in the Women's Super League.
Expressing excitement about Mead's return, Wiegman stated, "We have lots of players up front who are in good form, and I am really excited that she is back. First of all, as a person after what she has gone through in the last year. She always smiles and connects with everyone."
While acknowledging Mead's positive demeanor, Wiegman emphasized the importance of her on-field performances, stating, "It is good to have her back, but it starts with her performances. At Arsenal, she is just building her minutes, and you can tell she is in a good place. Her last game was incredible, her second goal in particular was really nice. It is like she hasn't been away. She feels good and trains really well. We have lots of hard decisions to make ahead of Friday."
Following the match against the Netherlands, England will conclude the group stage with a fixture against Scotland on December 5th.