SOCCER

Wiegman is waiting to see if she can be pitchside for England’s clash against Spain | Women’s Euro 2022

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Sarina Wiegman faces a nervous wait to see if she will test negative for Covid in time to be in the technical area for England’s Euro 2022 quarter-final against Spain on Wednesday night.

The Lionesses manager said she was “highly hopeful” of being at the game in Brighton, but stressed her presence was not imperative. “I feel good, I’m ready to go but I still have to wait,” said Wiegman, who missed England’s 5-0 win over Northern Ireland in their last Group A match after tested positive.

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“I have a lot of hope, but we will see. We know that if I can’t be there, I will be there some other way. The workflow with my technical staff is so smooth that everyone knows what to do.

Last Friday, the former Netherlands coach was in constant contact with her assistant, Arjan Veurink, via an open phone line. “We stayed connected the whole time,” Wiegman said. “If necessary, that’s what we will do again against Spain. We just have to adapt. We can be effective in different ways.

Having only had mild symptoms for one day – “it wasn’t too bad, I had a bit of a temperature and a bit of a cough” – Wiegman has been involved in every outdoor training session since her diagnosis, albeit from a socially distant point of view and while wearing a mask. Meanwhile, indoor tactical debriefings took place virtually.

Although England has tightened the rules for those visiting their base at a resort hotel in south-west London – anyone entering the ‘bubble’ must be tested for Covid and some are asked to wear masks – their Third-choice goaltender Hannah Hampton also tested positive on Tuesday. Hampton aside, the rest of the squad is available for selection.

Third-choice goalkeeper Hannah Hampton has tested positive for Covid, but the rest of the England squad are available. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/The FA/Getty Images

“It’s not the worst nightmare, but Covid is just a situation we have to deal with,” Wiegman said. “We want to succeed, so we have to stay in our bubble and be very careful. It’s very unfortunate, you don’t want this, but this [Covid] is very invisible. Everyone must take responsibility and tell us if they are not feeling well.

Spain’s ability to pass and move between the lines makes Jorge Vilda’s dominant side an elusive opponent. , Norway and Northern Ireland.

“Don’t expect too many changes,” said Wiegman, who led his native Netherlands to Euro 2017 glory. [Spain] We are a very good team and we will probably have a lot of ball, but hopefully we will too. We are also a very good team. We are quite comfortable with the ball so I can’t wait to see how it goes in Brighton.

“It’s about using our strengths and exploiting their weaknesses. Spain have such an attacking style of play that we know there will be spaces. We know our plan but we also know that we haven’t won anything yet. The level of play at the Euro is high; we are not the only favourites.

Wiegman, whose side are unbeaten since being appointed as England manager last September, has endorsed Guardian columnist and former England international Anita Asante’s call for more diversity within the Lionesses camp. “I hope in the future we will have more diversity in the national team,” said the 52-year-old, whose 23-member squad includes three black players. “The FA have strategies in place to get more diversity, but that’s for the long term. For now, I’m just picking the best players, I don’t care if they’re black or white.

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Keira Walsh has confirmed that Phil Neville’s successor also doesn’t care about players misplacing ambitious passes as they strive to implement his attacking approach on the pitch. “Sarina isn’t going to yell at us or put us down if we’ve made mistakes,” said the England midfielder. “She knows it’s part of the game. Sarina always encourages us to play forward, but she takes the pressure off. She is also very meticulous, speaks very straight and goes straight to the point. You know where you are with her. She’s not stupid.

“In the past, we probably talked too much about the quality of other teams and players in meetings and it kinda sticks in your head. But, for Sarina, it’s about what we do. We don’t doubt Spain’s abilities, but Wednesday night is about our style.

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