The Women’s Super League season is once again upon us and with more eyes than ever before set to be tuning into the new campaign, a run-down of where to find all the England players who made themselves household names over the Euros seemed like a logical approach for interested fans.
You can expect to see Manchester City mentioned multiple times — the third-place finishers in 2021-22 had 10 representatives in the England squad at the Euros — although at the time of writing, two players have left for Europe and two have retired. The bulk of the home-based England squad comes from the top four teams (by last season’s standings) in WSL, with just two (Hannah Hampton and Rachel Daly) coming from Aston Villa.
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The two oldest members of the Euros winning squad, Jill Scott (35) and Ellen White (33) are the two former Citizens who’ve hung their boots up over the summer in what has been a window of considerable upheaval for City, but that’s a discussion for another day. So, where can you find the individual European champions this season as they ramp up preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Euros minutes: 600
A regular starter for each of the WSL teams she’s played for over the years, Mary Earps has been candid in admitting that she thought she’d missed the boat for staking a claim on the no.1 role for England. Yet with many placing Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck ahead of her in the pecking order, it was Earps who caught the eye of her national team manager and was entrusted to the role of England’s starting shot-stopper.
A near-perfect summer had kept Earps’ wearing the #1 shirt for her country and providing she can stay fit over the course of the season with Manchester United, the 29-year-old seems undroppable.
Position: Centre-back/defensive midfield
Euros minutes: 600
This is where I blow your mind by telling you that Leah Williamson, centre-back and England captain, was ever-present for Sarina Wiegman at the Euros and that she is one of the least likely to be dropped by her coach. In fact, Williamson was the only outfielder to play every second of the Euros for England, which of course, included two doses of extra-time in the knockouts.
An assured and comfortable defender who spreads confidence with her calm demeanour at the back, there were plenty of rumblings around Wiegman’s decision to move her to centre-back from the double pivot midfield role she’d been occupying with Keira Walsh. Yet it was the Arsenal woman herself who admitted that the heart of the defence was a more comfortable role for her, despite having represented her country from midfield.
Moving forward, it’s unlikely that her club coach, Jonas Eidevall, will push her into what is already a congested Arsenal midfield, instead opting to keep her at the back for the Gunners, which firms up the notion that Williamson is a defender for England. With Arsenal playing in Europe again this season, as well as battling for the WSL crown and both domestic cups, Williamson will be another player who will have to be mindful of any cumulative fatigue going into a World Cup at which she’s expected to feature heavily.
Position: Defensive midfield
Euros minutes: 596
In the English talent pool, there is a back-up for every starter in the women’s national team who can do a comparable job should the first choice be unavailable. This is true of every first-choice player — with the exception of Keira Walsh.
It’s true that one could push Williamson into the defensive midfield role and she would do a fair job, but the defender has admitted she is less comfortable in midfield. There are other defenders you could advance to act as a shield for the backline, but none have the vision and natural range of passing as Walsh, with the midfielder’s line-breaking passes a key component in the England side.
So, it’s safe to say, Walsh will never be drifting far from the starting XI while she’s healthy enough to start. Heavily linked with a move to Barcelona that didn’t materialise over the summer, another season in Manchester allows the 25-year-old to continue on as she has been, untroubled by a new league/surroundings. Her continuity a benefit for Wiegman heading into a World Cup.
Euros minutes: 584
At 30 years old, there’s a suggestion that Bronze has lost a touch of her pace when getting up and down the right flank for club and country, yet having secured a summer move to Champions League runners-up, Barcelona, it’s clear the defender still has plenty in her locker.
A mainstay of the England team who has already cut her teeth outside of the WSL having spent two seasons with French juggernauts, Olympique Lyonnais. The biggest challenge for Bronze will once again be about making sure she stays sharp in defence playing for a team that’s used to dominating and dictating games.
Euros minutes: 556
A lynchpin for Emma Hayes at Chelsea since her move to the Blues in 2015, Bright is expected to keep her staring spot for both club and country over the coming season, despite the league champions adding Kadeisha Buchanan, the accomplished Canadian international, this summer.
Though she has endured dips of form in her career, the consistent reliable performances from Bright over the past year, make her one of the most likely Lionesses to make the cut for Sarina Wiegman’s World Cup squad.
Euros minutes: 547
Predicted to be the breakout player of the tournament, Lauren Hemp, arguably disappointed over the Euros — though the bar was set perilously high for the speedy winger — Hemp is poised to have another strong season as one of the shining stars of the Man City team.
Having had to deal with multiple defenders tying her up at the tournament this summer, the upcoming campaign will give Hemp a chance to work on wriggling free of the defenders who try to limit her, with WSL teams likely to try and employ the same tactics as the opposition England faced over July. Regardless, Hemp is clearly rated highly by Wiegman who prizes her speed in transition highly and the 22-year-old, certainly doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
Position: Attacking/central midfield
Euros minutes: 511
It’s still a rarity in women’s football to hear of a transfer and say, “Well that just makes sense, doesn’t it?” as was the case when Georgia Stanway’s move to Bayern Munich was announced earlier in the summer. Having only played in Bayern’s preseason friendlies so far, the Barrow-in-Furness native looks set to hit the ground running with the former Frauen-Bundesliga champions, seamlessly slotting into their midfield.
The only possible worry for Stanway is just how fresh she looked on her Bayern debut, as the England player with only a finite amount of time between the end of the Euros and start of life in Southern Germany. Just like her England teammates who featured heavily over the Euros and are regular starters for their country, there is a wider concern about excessive work-load and minute management as the German season is as physically demanding as the WSL.
Euros minutes: 494
Another of the handful of Lionesses to have moved clubs this summer, no one has moved as far as Rachel Daly with the Yorkshire native upping sticks after 10 years stateside. Drafted by the Houston Dash after completing her degree at John’s Hopkins, Daly is returning to the English league a different player, having departed when she was still playing a left-back.
Although familiar to England fans as a defender, it’s further up the pitch where Daly has made a name for herself in the NWSL and is also where she is expected to line-up for Aston Villa over the course of the season. The tireless 30-year-old at her best when she can run at defences rather than make a home for herself in one. Yet with high competition in the wider attacking areas for England, it’s unlikely her exploits over the coming season will shift her from the role of defender in Wiegman’s eyes.
Euros minutes: 451
There will always be a footnote in Beth Mead’s England career that mentions she was left out of Hege Riise’s first squad. The Norwegian coach was brought in to bridge the gap between Phil Neville’s exit and Wiegman’s start, that included managing Team GB through the delayed 2020 Olympics. Riise simply explained that the report on Mead hadn’t been the best. How much this initial exclusion impacted the attacker’s game is something only she knows, but there is no question: her form did improve and improve — and it improved some more.
A starter for Jonas Eidevall’s physically dominant Arsenal side, Mead looks as at home at Borehamwood, where Arsenal play their home games, as she does in an England shirt and doesn’t look likely to relinquish her place for either club or country any time soon.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Euros minutes: 409
An inspirational midfielder whose senior career has been blighted by injury and illness, Fran Kirby was somewhat of a surprise addition in the squad of 23 for the Euros, the Chelsea star having once more been side-lined at the end of last season. Yet with careful minute-managing in the build up to the tournament, the Reading native saw plenty of the pitch over the summer.
Heading into a new season with Chelsea, another in which the Blues will be fighting for four different pieces of silverware, it’s the minute-managing from both Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman that will be vital to keep Kirby, not just playing but healthy enough for her day-to-day life.
Euros minutes: 262
With Sarina Wiegman known for liking a set starting XI, Alessia Russo was one of the players who started the Euros on the bench much to the clamour of fans and journalists alike who were desperate to see her get the nod to start.
A player who always managed to add something when she was introduced off of the bench over the summer, Russo could not have done more over the tournament to justify a start. Now, with Wiegman’s hand forced following the retirement of Ellen White, all Russo has to do is remain healthy and keep putting in the eye-catching performances for the Red Devils as they try to push for Champions League football.
Position: Attacking midfield
Euros minutes: 235
A fan-favourite at Manchester United, it’s easy to see why, when Ella Toone is on the pitch, the attack-minded midfielder is the one who likes to hound and harass the opposition.
Reduced to impactful cameo appearances at the Euros, Toone is likely to spend the next season trying to justify a starting spot in Wiegman’s team although from league performances, it’s clear she is very much in the conversation.
Euros minutes: 199
Having torn her ACL right at the end of a blistering 2020-21 season, Chloe Kelly spent the majority of last season battling to regain fitness to claim a spot in the group of 23 for the Euros. Prior to her injury, Kelly had balanced the three-ponged City attack, counter-balancing Hemp on the left and after such a memorable Euros, the 24-year-old looks set to fall back into step for the new season.
A predicted starter before her ACL tear, Kelly will have to produce something special throughout the coming season to have any chance of displacing Beth Mead on the right side of England’s attack.
Age: 29 (her birthday is Sept. 7)
Euros minutes: 150
Coming into the Euros off of a strong season with Manchester City, the defender having regained some of her better form when pushed back to a centre-back position she had not occupied for some years, Alex Greenwood was arguably the biggest casualty to Williamson being pushed into the back line.
Comfortable at centre-back, Greenwood found herself struggling to get minutes at full-back with Rachel Daly preferred ahead of her. Despite this, Greenwood remains a strong option at both left-back and centre-back, and is adept at switching between the two no matter where City boss, Gareth Taylor opts to play her. And following such a strong season last term, its unlikely the defender will ever be far from Taylor’s starting XI.
Euros minutes: 16
A promising young defender at Birmingham City, Jess Carter struggled to make her mark with Chelsea when she first moved down to London in 2018. Dealing with injuries and a loaded squad the versatile defender didn’t tap back into her better form until several weeks into the 2021-22 season but once she found her rhythm, she was immovable from the Blues’ backline. Yet despite the rich vein of form she worked herself into, the Warwick native struggled for minutes during the Euros and will need to put in some meaningful performances for England when she gets the chance over the next year, even with her club form speaking for itself.
Euros minutes: 3
Nikita Parris is another of the small number of Lionesses who moved clubs this summer, after a season of failing to make an impact at Arsenal with question of right club/wrong time asked, the former Evertonian has headed back north, this time to join up with Manchester City.
On paper, the move makes sense for Parris and there is a hope that she will be able to regain some of her better form — like the type fans will remember from her time with United’s cross-town rivals, City. Having already amassed more minutes for England in one post-Euros match vs. Austria than at the entire Euros combined, the speedy attacker looks set to grab the new season with both hands.
Euros minutes: 0
Bethany England remains one of England’s biggest “right player, wrong time” players. Whenever the striker is in form, she usually finds herself pushed to the back of the queue, vying for minutes off of the bench, yet when given a start, she has often found it hard to stake a firm case — a phenomena she suffers for both club and country. A player who has had to battle for her starts amongst long stretches of bench-warming, there is a strong argument that England needs to move to a club that can afford her regular starts, not least if she is to be a reliable option for England.
Euros minutes: 0
As a third-choice goalkeeper, there is little Hannah Hampton can do beyond putting in the hard yards over the course of the season but at an Aston Villa team that has finished 10th and ninth over the first two seasons in the WSL, the young goalkeeper is likely to remain an understudy to an understudy.
Euros minutes: 0
Manchester City’s number one since 2018, Ellie Roebuck somewhat fell off of the pace thanks to an injury that kept her out of the squad at the start of last season, yet City’s uptick in form when she returned was palpable. The starting goalkeeper for Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 22-year-old can already boast a wealth of experience for club and country, yet for the time being, is very much the second choice behind Mary Earps.
Euros minutes: 0
A reliable left-back when fit, Demi Stokes is entering her eighth season with Manchester City and is likely to see out another solid season at the CFA, yet Stokes has found herself somewhat out of favour with Wiegman. Despite playing for England seven times in the build-up to the Euros, the defender failed to get onto the pitch this summer with both Daly and Greenwood preferred ahead of her and faces the simple problem of having fallen down one too many rungs in the pecking order.
Likely to continue to feature for England over the course of the next year, Stokes’ involvement at the next World Cup seems far more balanced on the fitness of those ahead of her rather than the strength of her 2022-23 season.
Euros minutes: 0
The final Lioness on this list also happens to be the last of the five who didn’t manage to get onto the pitch for England this summer, raising the question of what can Lotte Wubben-Moy do to change that. But, indeed like an Ellie Roebuck or Demi Stokes, Wubben-Moy finds herself down the pecking order not necessarily because of her own ability but of the fierce competition she faces ahead of her. Worse still for the defender, she finds herself at an Arsenal team who have added depth in her favoured position at the back, leaving her as an option off of the bench for Jonas Eidevall, more than as a starter which could see her far further down the ranks for England.