England boss Sarina Wiegman relishing 'challenging' new Euro 2025 qualifying format

  • Sarina Wiegman has named 28 players in the squad for the summer internationals
  • England will face France twice before taking on Sweden and the Republic of Ireland this summer
  • The Lionesses’ difficult group comes as part of a new qualifying campaign introduced ahead of Euro 2025
England manager Sarina Wiegman
England manager Sarina Wiegman / ANP/GettyImages

England manager Sarina Wiegman admits the new UEFA Women's Euro qualifying format is 'challenging' yet 'exciting' for all involved as the Lionesses gear up for some tough fixtures against France, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland this summer.

Despite being crowned European champions in 2022 by defeating Germany in the final, England's spot at next year's showpiece tournament in Switzerland is far from guaranteed. In a new-look qualifying campaign, the Lionesses were drawn in a group that contains three of the four finalists at the Euros two years ago.

Heavy scorelines in favour of bigger nations prompted a change to the format to match the Nations League. England are in League A, which consists of four groups of four, but only the top two in each will automatically qualify for the 2025 edition of the Euros.

Should the Lionesses finish third or fourth in their group, they will rely on securing their place through play-offs against teams in League B and League C. This is a strong possibility given France and Sweden are their closest competitors in group A3.

Despite the tougher route, England boss Wiegman believes it's a positive step for the game as fixtures will become far less predictable. “That’s what we wanted," she said in a press conference on Tuesday, following the announcement of her 28-player squad for the summer internationals.

"We are in a very hard group and it’s very high level, but we want challenging games. We want games where you don’t know what the result is going to be beforehand.

“In some games [in the previous format] we knew ahead of time that we would win the game, we just didn’t know by how much. So yes, I think it’s very good and it’s very challenging. We don’t know what it’s going to look like on July 16 and that’s exciting for everyone.”

Alessia Russo, Lauren James, Georgia Stanway
England during their UEFA EURO 2025 Women's Qualifier against Sweden in April / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

So far, the Lionesses' qualifying campaign has seen them draw 1-1 against Sweden at Wembley before they beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 away from home. At the end of May and in early June, they will play a double-header against France before they face Sweden and Ireland again in July to complete the group stage.

Wiegman's 28-player-squad consists of 24 names with an additional four on standby. This will remain unchanged across the two camps unless players withdraw through injury or loss of form.

The four standby players, apart from Maya Le Tissier, who has already made her senior England debut, have been promoted from the under-23s and will train with the first team. Jess Naz, Missy Bo Kearns and Kayla Rendell are those who have been handed the opporunity by Wiegman.

“They do well in the under-23s and, of course, they play at their clubs too," Wiegman continued, when asked about the new faces that will be joining the team. "We also look at what positions we’ll need players if something were to happen to someone in the squad. You want to have players ready to move up.

“They’re talented players. Jess Naz has stepped up and Tottenham and she loves speed. We’ll see how that relates into our environment.

“We don’t make decisions overnight [on whether FA Cup final had an impact]. We follow players throughout the whole year, with their club teams and with the youth national teams. Then you make the final decisions.

“There’s a period of time between the first and second window [in June and July]. We’ll play France twice then see how the players come out of that. Then, there’s two weeks of rest before the players start training again."