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England’s future? Back 3 earn rave reviews at camp

Arsenal duo impress alongside United ace during training match

03 December, 2020 — By Catherine Etoe

Arsenal defenders Leah Williamson and Lotte Wubben-Moy with Millie Turner. Photo: The FA

BEFORE the international break, Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro hailed his defensive pairing of Leah Williamson and Lotte Wubben-Moy, predicting they could be “amazing” for England in the future.

Well, it only took a few days, but when Phil Neville’s Lionesses played in an England v England match at Stoke on Friday, their club manager was proved right.

Put into a back three with Manchester United’s Millie Turner in what turned out to be the winning “England” side, they won rave reviews.

Veteran midfielder Jill Scott said: “Technically they are such good players, and one thing I like about all three of them is that they are front-footed defenders and they want to put a tackle in.”

As Euro 2022 hosts, England are ticking over with friendlies and this window should have seen Neville’s players face Norway in Sheffield.

That match was called off, however, when the visitors decided not to travel because of Covid-19 considerations.

Even so, England first-team hopeful Williamson seemed to think that the camp and training matches were useful.

She said: “I think any team would take this time that we’ve had to really work on things and plan for the future as well.”

TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME

The international break proved a less happy hunting ground for Arsenal trio Jen Beattie, Lisa Evans and Kim Little as Scotland’s Euro dream was dashed.

A 1-0 loss away to Portugal on Friday meant that Tuesday night’s qualifier with Finland was a must-win game, but there would be tears before bedtime at Easter Road, home of Hibernian.

That same stadium was buzzing with more than 6,000 fans last August when Scotland kicked off their bid to reach the tournament by hammering Cyprus 8-0.

The raft of cardboard spectator cut-outs that dotted the stands this time were an imaginative alternative in this pandemic era, but they were no substitute.

Scotland dominated and Evans was a bright spark. Even so, a side who were without their self-isolating manager Shelley Kerr lost out at the death. It was a flukey goal, keeper Lee Alexander saving Amanda Rantanen’s shot, only for it to balloon off the Finland player’s face and into the net.

Evans said afterwards: “The potential that this squad has got is absolutely huge and I still really can’t believe that we’ve not won these games. Now we need to go back and re-evaluate.”

HAYES THE BEST

Former Parliament Hill School pupil Emma Hayes, better known in the football world as the multi-trophy-winning manager of Chelsea, has been shortlisted for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award. Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema is up for Best Women’s Player.

Public voting on www.fifa.com is open until December 9.

WSL BACK

A limited number of Spurs Women season ticket holders will be allowed into The Hive in Barnet on Sunday for the visit of Brighton. Arsenal will host Birmingham City at Meadow Park.

Both matches kick off at 2pm.

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