England captain Leah Williamson will miss England’s Wembley showdown with World Cup holders the USA on Friday and the match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday following assessment on an injury sustained in training.
Williamson, who was seen in a boot and on crutches at England’s training base in south-west London, was confirmed as having returned to Arsenal for her rehabilitation, with details of her injury undisclosed. She joins Alessia Russo and Lucy Parker, who have also left the camp through injury.
The forward Chloe Kelly, who scored the winner against Germany in the final of the Euros in the summer, said: “Leah’s a great leader and of course we’ll miss her. We have such great depth in our squad and such great strength in our squad. There are so many great leaders with experience. So, it’s all about coming together in these moments when you do lose a player like Leah and supporting Leah now in her rehab.”
The Lionesses are back at the hotel and training base in Teddington that hosted them during the historic summer and Kelly is hoping that can inspire some good memories. “When we came back into the Lensbury it literally felt like we were back and that we’d only been away for a few days,” she said.
“I feel like our mindset has changed on to the World Cup. We had such a great summer and that gives you so much positive energy around the group, everyone is just excited to learn and excited to get back on the pitch together. We had so much fun off the pitch too, it was brilliant, we just enjoyed each other’s company and we had great times together as a team. So coming back here brings back so many memories.”
The manager, Sarina Wiegman, has spoken about a need to look forward to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next summer and not spend time dwelling on the Euros win.
“That’s definitely true, said Kelly, “but it’s also about reflecting on the summer and where we can be even better. Of course, next year we have another tournament and with it being so close together it gives you the opportunity to reflect on where you can improve, but it being around the corner it doesn’t give you too long. You can’t celebrate for too long.”
The world champions, whose last defeat was at the Olympic Games against Canada 14 months ago, travel to England with a much changed side to the one that beat them in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup.
“It’s another young team with young players, but we expect another physical challenge for us,” said Kelly. “The league over there is brilliant too, we need to know the threats they pose, technically as well, because they’re a great team and we can’t get carried away with thinking they’re just physical. They’re going to challenge us in different ways and we have to be ready for that challenge.”
After a whirlwind summer, Kelly is fuelled by a desire for more success and admitted that is what keeps her grounded. “It is quite easy, to be fair,” said Kelly of keeping her feet on the ground. “Because I want to experience that winning feeling even more. One medal round your neck is probably not enough. I just want to win. To do it with such a great bunch of girls it makes you so much more hungry to get back on the pitch. I was so excited to just get back on the pitch and learn, because obviously I am so young so I want to experience these winning feelings so much more in my career.”