Hege Riise names first England squad but leaves Beth Mead out

Beth Mead
Mead has 25 England caps and eight international goals

England interim manager Hege Riise says she left Arsenal forward Beth Mead out of her first squad as her form "hasn't been that great".

Riise has named a group of 20 for England's friendly with Northern Ireland on 23 February, their first fixture since March 2020.

Lyon striker Nikita Parris misses out because of Covid-19 restrictions.

"Lyon didn't want to release her so that's the reason," said Riise. "She would of course be in the squad."

Riise said Mead - who has 25 caps and eight international goals - has been affected by a lack of game time for her club, adding: "The player report hasn't been that great. For me to narrow the squad, it leaves her out. If she performs every weekend then we will see."

Atletico Madrid's Toni Duggan featured in England's last fixture - a 1-0 loss to Japan at the SheBelieves Cup in March - but is not included in Riise's first squad since taking over after former England head coach Phil Neville left the role.

With Demi Stokes injured and Parris unable to travel, Riise's squad does not contain any black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) players.

Manchester United's Lauren James and Liverpool's Rinsola Babajide, who received call-ups in November, are also not selected.

'A squad capable of glory'

Riise has been installed for this five-day February training camp and friendly while England wait for Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman to take over permanently in September.

Uncapped names including Birmingham City goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, Everton keeper Sandy MacIver, Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy and Manchester United forward Ella Toone have all been named.

Senior figures including Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Ellen White all feature in the 20-strong group.

Midfielder Jill Scott - currently on loan at Everton - is one of 10 Manchester City players named and could win her 150th cap.

"I have 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," said Riise, 51.

"My work from now until Sarina Wiegman's arrival is to develop their ability, playing style and physical conditioning to contribute to future success - this summer and beyond.

"It has been almost a year since we all played. They are excited coming in. I believe the quality in the squad is amazing."

After facing Northern Ireland - a game broadcast live on the BBC - England will meet Canada on 13 April.

The fixtures and training camps - which will adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols - will offer players the chance to get ready for involvement in Team GB's Olympic campaign and provide an opportunity to prepare for next year's European Championships, set to take place in England.

Squad in full

Hege Riise
Riise is in charge of England on a temporary basis

Goalkeepers: Hannah Hampton (Birmingham), 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: Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton on loan from Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City)