Women's Senior
Women's Senior

Stand-in England coach Hege Riise discusses her first squad selection

Tuesday 09 Feb 2021
Riise has selected her first squad as interim head coach

Hege Riise is hoping to instil a renewed sense of belief in the Lionesses when she takes charge of her first squad later this month. 

The Norwegian faced the media for the first time as she revealed her 20-player squad to take on Northern Ireland at St. George’s Park on Tuesday 23 February. 

As a player, Riise is one of only three women ever to win the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships and lined up against England on numerous occasions, including once at Carrow Road. 

Since then she’s spent the last 15 years honing her skills as a coach and now faces the task of preparing as squad for the Tokyo Olympics this summer. 

“Hopefully I can bring more confidence in the playing style that they have and make small changes in that,” she said. 

“When I played against England they weren’t developing as they are now. They have improved massively and are now one of the top nations in the world.

“Hopefully I can just add a few things - especially the belief in what we are doing. That will be a key message, the belief in how good we are."

Hege Riise battles for the ball in a 3-0 win over England at Carrow Road in 2000

The fixture against Northern Ireland will be the Lionesses’ first since March last year and is preceded by a five-day training camp in which Riise will have the opportunity to meet her players for the first time.

The squad has been reduced in size to align with preparations for Tokyo and Riise has opted for a blend of youth and experience in her first selection. 

There are four uncapped players in the squad including goalkeeping duo Sandy MacIver and Hannah Hampton and outfield players Lotte Wubben-Moy and Ella Toone. 

Meanwhile the experienced trio of captain Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Jill Scott all retain their places with the latter in line to make her 150th appearance if she plays against Northern Ireland. 

“It has been almost a year since we played a game so they are excited coming in,” said Riise, who has been communicating with her team and staff via video calls until now. 

“Hopefully the players coming in are relaxed, eager to show that they want to be a part of the squad and I believe the quality of the squad is amazing. 

"I've watched a lot of England and club matches and believe this is a group of players who are capable of winning at a major tournament.

“I've been looking at many players and we have a long list but we wanted to narrow it down to make it really competitive going into the Olympics.

“This is an England squad going to the Olympics as Great Britain with all the other nations’ players too so I think for all of us, this is exciting going forward.”

The Lionesses have also added former Canada international Rhian Wilkinson to their roster of coaches - somebody Riise knows well having coached her during a stint in Norway. 

Boasting 369 international caps between them, Riise and Wilkinson have a wealth of experience and a track record that shows they both know how to win. 

“I knew Rhian as a player because she played for me in Norway. I picked her up from Canada and enjoyed her being in the team because we won our first league title,” Riise added. 

“I'm very comfortable that she has come in and she will be a good asset to the coaching staff.”

England senior women's squad to face Northern Ireland

Goalkeepers: Hannah Hampton (Birmingham City), Sandy MacIver (Everton), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton, loan from Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Ellen White (Manchester City)

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By Tom Dean