England Women will look to continue their perfect record in World Cup qualifying when they take on Northern Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday.
A 10-0 victory over North Macedonia last Friday added to England’s dominance of Group D and put them within touching distance of a place in next year’s finals in Australia and New Zealand.
Here, the PA news agency breaks down some of the talking points before the showdown.
England on goals
Head coach Sarina Wiegman has emphasized being as clinical as possible and England have certainly delivered. They have scored a whopping 63 goals in just seven qualifying games so far and have yet to concede. Northern Ireland restricted them to four goals when the teams met last October and they still have a remote chance of qualifying, although defeat to Austria on Friday was a blow.
England have made a very positive start to the year with victory in the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup, beating Germany for the second time in 27 meetings, along with their dominance in qualifying. This will be their last competitive outing before the European Championships on home soil this summer, where Northern Ireland are among their group rivals. They’ll want to leave a marker here for that matchup and the bigger tests to come.
Williamson wears the bracelet
Leah Williamson missed the match against North Macedonia due to concussion protocol but will lead England on Tuesday for the first time since Wiegman’s decision to name her captain for the European Championships. Arsenal’s defense has gained plenty of experience leading their country but, with Steph Houghton still sidelined following Achilles tendon surgery, it is a significant moment for the 25-year-old.
White chasing Rooney
Ellen White racked up another milestone against North Macedonia, with her goal taking her to half a century for her country. White overtook Kelly Smith as the record goalscorer for the England women’s team last November and heads into Tuesday’s match just three short of Wayne Rooney’s overall England mark. White is one ahead of Harry Kane and is only the second England player to reach the 50 mark.
chance to impress
With time running out before the Euros and Wiegman seemingly settled on most of their pick options, the chances of players entering his thoughts are slim. The North Macedonia game saw Beth Mead, who made an impressive comeback after being left out of the Olympics squad, scored four times, while Ella Toone also hit a hat-trick and Georgia Stanway scored twice.
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