Five talking points ahead of England’s Arnold Clark Cup campaign

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England start their fixtures for 2023 with the Arnold Clark Cup, playing the first of their three matches when they face South Korea in Milton Keynes on Thursday.

Here are some of the talking points as Sarina Wiegman’s European champions head into the round-robin competition.

Still unbeaten

England begin the calendar year having gone without defeat across the whole of 2022, extending a run that started when Wiegman took charge in September 2021. It is currently 26 games under the Dutchwoman with 22 wins, two of which were secured in extra-time – the quarter-final and final of the triumphant run at the home Euros in July. The Lionesses are now building towards the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand this summer, where they will look to take the success achieved in Wiegman’s tenure to even greater heights.

Defending champions


The Arnold Clark Cup has served England well before – they won the inaugural edition this time last year after a 1-1 draw with Canada at the Riverside Stadium, 0-0 draw with Spain at Carrow Road and 3-1 victory over Germany at Molineux, and Wiegman has spoken about the boost that provided in terms of momentum and confidence ahead of the Euros. The cup defence sees them follow the South Korea match with games against Italy in Coventry on Sunday and then Belgium in Bristol three days later.

Notable returns

The squad for the tournament announced last week has a number of players back in after injury, including skipper Leah Williamson, who missed the games in October and November due to a foot problem. There is also a recall for fellow defender Jess Carter, another member of the Euro 2022-winning squad, and for two-cap midfielder Laura Coombs, having not been in the fold since 2020 and last played for England in 2015. Emily Ramsey has received her first senior call-up as one of four goalkeepers in the group.

Late inclusion for Nobbs but no England

Jordan Nobbs, who moved from Arsenal to Aston Villa in January and is eyeing the summer’s World Cup after missing both the last edition and Euro 2022 following injuries, was initially left out of this Arnold Clark Cup squad. But the 30-year-old midfielder was subsequently brought in by Wiegman at the weekend as Fran Kirby withdrew due to a knee issue – and Nobbs looked in the mood to impress on Sunday as she notched a hat-trick in Villa’s 6-2 win at Brighton. There is no place for Bethany England despite scoring goals since her January move from Chelsea to Tottenham, and fellow Euros-winning forward Nikita Parris has also been omitted. Beth Mead is out due to the ACL injury she suffered in November.

The opposition


Last year’s Arnold Clark Cup pitted England, currently fourth in FIFA’s world rankings, against three other top-10 teams. This time they take on sides in a slightly lower bracket, with South Korea, Italy and Belgium lying 15th, 17th and 20th respectively. South Korea, managed by Englishman Colin Bell, were runners-up at last year’s Asian Cup, while Italy made a Euro 2022 group-stage exit and Belgium reached the quarter-finals.

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