Speaking to ITV, Bayern Munich’s Georgia Stanway speaks about losing out to Spain in the World Cup final: “Losing the final was one of the hardest things I’ve faced as an individual … I went home, opened my front door, and it was silent … things come crashing down, and you’ve got to find that motivation in you somewhere. At some point in the next year it’s going to creep up on me – but that’s how I want to deal with it now.”
“With the Netherlands and Belgium having beaten England this year,” emails Peter Oh, “maybe Luxembourg will fancy having a pop at making it a clean Benelux sweep?”
Last time out, England were beaten in a five-goal thriller in Belgium, a setback that put qualification out of their hands.
Suzanne Wrack was on the scene:
You can email me with your predictions, thoughts and dreams.
“Red card for misogyny, Free kick for progress.”
The UK’s first and so far only female poet laureate has written a sonnet to honour England’s Lionesses and a game she says she has “loved from childhood”.
Aluko, on pundit duty ITV4, says England need to tighten up a bit “and we’ll be OK”. Wright chips in: “There is something about our sloppiness in attack that really worries me”. Hayes, who is soon off to the commentary box, points out there is a lot of experience in this Dutch lineup.
Are England ready, Sarina Wiegman is asked on ITV4: “I hope so,” says the Lionesses manager. “We had a good week so far. Tonight we have to show up, and we’re ready to go.
“We want attack … I chose the ones [the front three] who are best in form … I had lots of choices to make … Millie Bright is a miss.”
How close was Beth Mead to starting? “We had many choices to make. The competition was really high.”
ITV4 have rolled out the heavy artillery as far as pundits go: Emma Hayes, Ian Wright, Eni Aluko and Karen Carney are in the studio with the presenter Laura Woods.
Sarina Wiegman insisted England are “not panicking” after a 3-2 defeat away by Belgium took control of their Nations League group and Olympic qualification out of the Lionesses’ hands.
Keira Walsh has said England want to “put things right” against the Netherlands on Friday night, after a 3-2 defeat against Belgium in their previous Nations League match dented their hopes of Olympic qualification for Team GB.
Tonight marks Lauren Hemp’s 50th cap for England, with the goalkeeper, Mary Earps, captaining a side packed with major tournament winners. The defender and usual captain Millie Bright is out injured while Alessia Russo drops to the bench, with Hemp coming in. Lauren James also starts in attack.
Plenty of familiar names in the Dutch squad, with Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema beginning the evening on the bench and the former Gunner, Danielle van de Donk, starting in midfield.
England: Earps (capt.), Bronze, Charles, Walsh, Greenwood, Carter, Kelly, Stanway, Kirby, James, Hemp. Substitutes: Morgan, Hampton, Toone, Wubben-Moy, Zelem, Mead, Clinton, Daly, Le Tissier, Keating, Turner, Russo.
Netherlands: Van Domselaar, Dijkstra, Roord, Beerensteyn, Spitse (capt.), Van de Donk, Martens, Groenen, Pelova, Janssen, Brugts. Substitutes: Lorsheyd, Weimar, Casparij, Damaris, Van Dongen, Jansen, Kaptein, Leuchter, Miedema, Van de Sanden, Snoeijs, Wilms.
England may be European champions and World Cup runners-up but there remain no guarantees in international sport. If Sarina Wiegman’s team do not defeat the Netherlands at Wembley this evening, they will wave goodbye to a crack at next year’s Paris Olympics.
The Lionesses are obliged to beat the Dutch, and then Scotland away on Tuesday, to stand a chance of topping League A Group 1 and qualifying for the semi-finals. As a squad, they have become well accustomed to winning, but previous defeats against the Netherlands in September and then against Belgium in October leave them third in the group and firmly on the back foot.
The next few hours will be a test of their collective mettle. Team news and more coming right up.