England women manager Sarina Wiegman is yet to name a permanent captain and will continue to delay that decision until she is able to cast an eye over all of the contenders.
Wiegman took charge of her first Lionesses match in September after joining the England setup from the Netherlands after the Olympics. Leah Williamson wore the armband in big wins over North Macedonia and Luxembourg so far and does so again against Northern Ireland.
Injury has so far kept long serving skipper Steph Houghton out of the squads that Wiegman has picked, while Lucy Bronze has also been unavailable. There are also a handful of other senior stars many fans would back to be the permanent captain for various reasons.
6. Alex Greenwood
Even at just 28, Alex Greenwood has over a decade of experience at the highest club level in England and has been an England international since 2014, with over 50 caps.
She has won trophies with Lyon, has previously captained Manchester United and at Manchester City is now among the best centre-backs in Europe, having successfully transitioned into the heart of the defence.
Greenwood should be an automatic name on the England teamsheet for years to come.
5. Fran Kirby
Chelsea star Fran Kirby has been through more than most and has continued to come out of it stronger and stronger. Her career was at risk because of a heart illness in 2019 and yet she is now performing at a world class level and better than ever before.
Kirby hasn’t always been used to make the most of her strengths at international level in the same way she does at Chelsea, arguably largely underwhelming on this stage since she burst onto the scene at the 2015 World Cup. But the ability is there.
If Wiegman can get that bit right, she could have a real leader on her hands.
4. Ellen White
Ellen White leads by example from the front. She has captained Manchester City on occasion this season and has previously worn the Lionesses armband as early as 2017.
The 32-year-old striker wouldn’t be a long-term choice as permanent skipper but has played the best football of her career since 2018 and is a dedicated professional that would demand the highest standards of both herself and her teammates.
White also has the experience, with over 10 years as an international, to command instant respect.
3. Steph Houghton
Steph Houghton is the incumbent captain until Wiegman makes a permanent decision otherwise, having taken over the role in early 2014 in preparation for the World Cup the following year.
Houghton has led the Lionesses during a crucial time when the team has transitioned into an international force, going to semi-finals in 2015, 2017 and 2019 under her.
There is no reason to strip her of the captaincy other than a recent string of injuries have made her selection far from guaranteed. She will also turn 34 before the end of the season and only for that reason might it be time to pass on the baton.
2. Lucy Bronze
As reigning Best FIFA Women’s Player, Lucy Bronze has ensured that the England squad has consistently featured a world class presence since her breakout tournament in 2015.
The Manchester City full-back was a favourite of former Lionesses boss Phil Neville and is clearly a contender for the captaincy under Wiegman, given the delay in naming a permanent skipper because of her absence.
Bronze underwent minor knee surgery in the summer and is yet to make her return, but her status as one of the best in the world means she cannot be ignored.
1. Leah Williamson
Arsenal’s Leah Williamson is the choice that Wiegman has consistently gone with so far and has clearly been impressed as she keeps getting the armband over and over. That above anything else puts her in the driving seat over other players who have been in Wiegman’s squads.
Despite operating as a centre-back at club level, Williamson has been used in midfield for England this season, with her vision and ability on the ball a major asset at international level.
She is also only 24, making her a suitable long-term choice, but has significant experience from the highest club level because she has been Arsenal regular since the age of 17.