Wiegman vows to field strong England team

England expected to fare strongly

England boss Sarina Wiegman says she intends to play a strong team against Northern Ireland (Match betting – England 1/50, Draw 16/1, Northern Ireland 40/1) despite the Lionesses already sealing their place in the quarter-finals.

Two wins from two mean England face little pressure ahead of their game with Northern Ireland at St Mary’s and Wiegman has the option of rotating.

England narrowly scraped past Austria 1-0 at Old Trafford on the opening night, before a mesmeric display saw them thrash tournament dark horses Norway 8-0 at the Amex Stadium.

Beth Mead put on a virtuoso display by scoring a hat-trick, while she was ably supported by the likes of Lauren Hemp and Ellen White.

Now, England complete their group with a match against tournament debutants Northern Ireland, who have already been eliminated following defeats to Norway and Austria.

Kenny Shiels’ side have fought valiantly but have ultimately lacked the quality and experience to compete.

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Ahead of Friday’s game, Wiegman says she is going to resist the urge to make big changes to her line-up.

“I believe in rhythm,” said the Dutchwoman, when asked about rotation.

“When you have nine days between the Norway game and the quarter-final it is too long. I think you need more rhythm and to keep the focus.

“You can’t expect lots of rotation. During the game, probably, but not from the start.”

Elsewhere, Norway and Austria will compete in a winner-takes-all clash to join England in the knockout stage (Match betting – Austria 13/5, Draw 13/5, Norway 19/20) .

Austria did reach the semi-final five years ago, though Norway are widely recognised as being the better team and they will be desperate to bounce back from their thrashing by England.

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Author: Lucas Carlson