Interim coach Hege Riise has confirmed that she will be using England’s friendly against Northern Ireland to help build an idea of the Team GB squad for the Olympic Games later this year.
Riise is in temporary charge of the Lionesses until September, when now-Netherlands manager Sarina Wiegman has agreed a deal to take over.
However, it will be Riise who will be part of the Team GB coaching team for the Olympics and she will use her first game in the England hot seat this afternoon to develop her understanding of the individuals in the squad.
When speaking in England’s pre-match press conference yesterday, in which FAWSL Full-Time were present, Riise said “I love having such a competitive group. It’s a great environment to be in for all of us to achieve what we want to achieve leading into the Olympics.
“Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to see players and for us to make up our minds.
“We have planned our substitutions in terms of playing time, but we will see how the game goes. We want to get to know young players in games as well as in training so it will be a mix between experience and youth.”
Since playing in the SheBelieves Cup last March, the Lionesses haven’t played again due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and have parted company with former manager Phil Neville who resigned last month.
In her first squad at the helm, Riise shook things up and named six uncapped players including two goalkeepers – Hannah Hampton (Birmingham) and Sandy MacIver (Everton). Having only worked with the squad for a few days, Norwegian Riise was full of praise for those selected but added that the hard work won’t stop once the players head back to their respective clubs
She said “The environment of this camp has made the younger players feel safe. They’re not afraid to try things and they have support constantly from the more experienced players.
“The character in the young players coming in and the others supporting them has resulted in a great camp. It’s great for me to see the hard work which they all do.
“Now I’ve seen them in the camp, I know them more, but I will see them in the games they play for their clubs and watch how they develop. It’s one thing doing what we do here as a national team, but standards need to be kept up at club level, which I’m sure they are and will be.
“It’s a small squad for the Olympics so my ‘needle eyes’ will return,” Riise joked.
England’s players will be able to show a first glimpse of their quality to the new boss this afternoon. Their game against Northern Ireland kicks off at 12:30pm and will be shown live from St George’s Park on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button.
Article author: Ben Olawumi