Women's Senior
Women's Senior

England boss Hege Riise heaps praise on Niamh Charles and talks of Tokyo planning

Tuesday 30 Mar 2021
Niamh Charles has been impressing at club level this season earning more regular selection under Chelsea manager Emma Hayes

While most of us have been enjoying the swift ascension of Chelsea's Niamh Charles from our sofas, Lionesses interim head coach Hege Riise has been busy planning her first England call-up.

Riise has named the 21 year old in her latest squad for the upcoming games away to France on Friday 9 April and then at home to Canada on Tuesday 13 April.

An injury to regular right-back Maren Mjedle has meant Charles has been playing out of position in Chelsea's defence and in some high-stakes games too, including their 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg victory over Wolfsburg last week.

Prior to joining the Blues last summer, Charles had been operating in forward positions for former club Liverpool and the England development teams but her form and versatility could've arrived at the perfect time for Riise's Tokyo Olympics planning.

Charles in action for Chelsea in the Champions League

"From what I've seen she can play in the number two position, the seven and also the three but what impressed me when I saw her in that Champions League game was her physicality," said the Norwegian World Cup winner.

"I see the talent and the physicality that she's shown growing into the game. So to bring her in and see her in our environment was important for me.

"I saw her raise her levels from the Atletico Madrid game to the Wolfsburg game, so she's in a good spot right now and delivering on the field. She can go up and down the field and she's still young, not yet mature in some of her play, but she is growing into those positions."

The two fixtures could present both Charles and Manchester United defender Millie Turner with the opportunity to make their debuts while Riise will be without skipper Steph Houghton, who misses out on the camp through injury.

Nikita Parris is also currently unable to join the squad as a result of a number of positive COVID-19 cases reported within Olympique Lyon but the likes of Lucy Bronze, Ellen White, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley mean the 24-strong squad is still stacked with experience as well as some exciting young players.

The squad for the Olympics, which begins in July this year, will need to be trimmed down to 18 including players from the other home nations and having been confirmed as the coach that will lead Team GB in Japan, Riise is looking forward to the tests that France and Canada present.

"It will be a good experience for us to travel. We only travel the day before so that will be almost like we're doing for the Olympics as well. It's a short time between [the games] so it will be a good test for us how we respond to that," she added.

"These are the types of teams that we'll meet at the Olympics so this will be two great games for us. Northern Ireland gave us a good competition and it was good for us to start now but leading into the Olympics it's important we get closer to 'tier one' opponents.

"There'll be ongoing discussions to pick the players for the Team GB and but seeing them in this camp will help me make decisions - but it's still going to be very hard to have a final squad of 18."

The Squad

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (OL Reign, loan from Manchester City), Sandy MacIver (Everton), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea),

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Millie Turner (Manchester United), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton, loan from Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City),  Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City)

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By Tom Dean