England: what places in the World Cup are up for grabs for the Lionesses?

England line-up in the Arnold Clark Cup against Belgium
England retained the Arnold Clark Cup in February

There are only four months left until the Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand. So, what positions are available in the Lionesses team?

Sarina Wiegman’s side will face Brazil and Australia this week in the last scheduled matches before the tournament.

There’s plenty of competition for places and BBC Sport is looking at who might be in contention for them.

Greenwood a certain but competitive central defender

Lotte Wubben-Moy
Lotte Wubben-Moy (right) was part of the Euro 2022 winning squad

Rachel Daly’s form for Aston Villa in attack this season – she has 13 goals and three assists in 17 appearances – has made it difficult for Wiegman to overlook her as a centre-forward option.

The versatile Euro 2022 winner was used as a left-back for most of Wiegman’s tenure, but impressed as a number nine when England won the Arnold Clark Cup in February.

With Daly again named as a striker for the April games, it gives Manchester City’s Alex Greenwood another chance to clinch his starting left-back spot for the World Cup.

Greenwood’s position looks under little threat as Daly continues to be used as a striker – but there are places to fight for in the squad as a back-up to regular centre-backs Leah Williamson and Millie Bright.

Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy was initially left out of this month’s squad but was a late substitute for injured Bright and will want to show Wiegman why she should have been called up in the first place.

She came off the bench to help Arsenal record a stunning Champions League quarter-final win over Bayern Munich last week and was a valued member of the Euro 2022 squad.

However, she faces fierce competition from Chelsea’s Jess Carter, Manchester United’s Maya le Tissier and West Ham’s uncapped defender Lucy Parker for a place in the World Cup squad.

Kirby doubts a place in midfield

Jordan Nobs
Jordan Nobbs joined Aston Villa in January after 12 years at Arsenal

Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Nobbs hasn’t played for England in a major tournament since 2017 after battling injury.

She suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury before the 2019 World Cup, missed selection for the 2021 Olympics with Great Britain and had knee problems again ahead of Euro 2022 .

But after a move from Arsenal to Villa in January, Nobbs found his form and battled his way back into the English setup.

She is one of five midfielders in the squad for Thursday’s Finalissima against Brazil – with Manchester United captain Katie Zelem absent – so this is another chance for her to impress.

The England midfielder is tough to break through with Bayern Munich’s Georgia Stanway and Barcelona’s Keira Walsh the favorites to start.

But there could be a place up for grabs with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, who started every game last summer, having not played since February due to injury.

Young Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone has thrived in Kirby’s absence, going from super-sub to starter, and will be hard to pass up, but Nobbs has plenty of experience that Wiegman will appreciate.

Daly pushes Russo as wingers clash

Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly
Chloe Kelly (left) and Rachel Daly (right) are hoping to start the World Cup in attack

England’s attacking options are world-class and this is where the competition for a place in the starting XI is at its highest.

Wiegman said in February that she doesn’t know her best XI, although there are unlikely to be many changes in defense or midfield.

The competition has grown even more since their Euro 2022 victory with the retirement of striker Ellen White and Ballon d’Or runner-up Beth Mead almost ruled out with an ACL injury.

That means two of England’s three frontline starters from last summer are likely to change at the World Cup.

Manchester City duo Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp compete with Chelsea’s Lauren James for the winger positions – although both Hemp and James can also play in the centre.

But perhaps the most intriguing question is who will be England’s number nine?

Manchester United’s Alessia Russo was White’s substitute last year and played a key role off the bench, scoring four goals in six substitute appearances on the way to the title.

But Daly’s form for Villa, her impressive performances in attack at the Arnold Clark Cup and the fact that she started every game at Euro 2022, may have pushed her up the pecking order.

England’s attacking options are so strong that Tottenham striker Beth England, who has scored five goals in her last seven WSL games, hasn’t even been called up this year.

  • Watch Lioness: Champions of Europe on iPlayer here

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