England to host Northern Ireland at Wembley in World Cup qualifiers

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Ellen White of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their side's second goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Qualifier group D match between England and North Macedonia at St. Mary's Stadium (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

England prepare to host Northern Ireland on Saturday evening in the Women’s World cup qualifiers. The match will be the first ever competitive game played at the national stadium for the Lionesses.

Lionesses look to add to unbeaten start

Sarina Wiegman is currently unbeaten in her previous two World Cup qualifiers with England, having taken maximum points from both matches. As it currently stands, England now sit at the top of Group D. 

England were last in action when they traveled to the Stade de Luxembourg in September, beating Luxembourg 10-0. 

Ellen White was on target with a brace, edging her closer to the all-time top scorer record for the Lionesses. She is just three goals behind current holder Kelly Smith, who has 46 goals. 

It was also a great night for defenders as Alex Greenwood (2), Millie Bright (2), and Rachel Daly all found the back of the net. Bethany England and Nikita Parris were the other goal-scorers.

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Previous meeting with Northern Ireland

The last time England and Northern Ireland met was back in February at St George’s Park. A hat-trick from White, close range finishes from both Lucy Bronze and Daly, and a debut goal from the penalty spot for Manchester United’s Ella Toone left the scoreline at 6-0 to England.

The full-time result proved to be a learning curve for Kenny Shiels’ side, who then turned their focus onto their Euro 2022 qualifying campaign. Marissa Callaghan and Nadene Caldwell helped Northern Ireland make history after reaching their first major tournament by qualifying for the European Championships next summer. 

In terms of the World Cup qualifiers, Northern Ireland have already hosted Luxembourg and Latvia, securing 4-0 wins against both sides. Marissa Callaghan and Rachel Furness are currently top-scorers in the group stage qualifying rounds after scoring in back to back matches for Kenny Shields. 

NI currently sit third in the group behind England and Austria on goal difference. 

Who will captain the Lionesses?

With current England captain Steph Houghton still recovering from an achilles injury, there is now a chance for someone else to captain the Lionesses against Northern Ireland and Latvia respectively. 

In the September fixtures, it was Arsenal’s Leah Williamson who donned the captain’s arm band. The defender put in a professional performance in both matches to keep clean sheets in both. She also provided the assist for the opening goal against North Macedonia. 

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However, Williamson is not the only option for captain. Many other members of the squad have also captained their clubs in their respective leagues.

With Houghton unavailable, Greenwood and White have shared the captaincy role for Manchester City. Across the city, Katie Zelem has showed her leadership qualities as Manchester United currently sit fourth in the Women’s Super League table. 

Over in the NWSL, right-back Rachel Daly regularly captains her side Houston Dash.

If Weigman is to go for a more experienced player, then midfielder Jill Scott could also be an option. She has captained the team on a few occasions, including the victory over Northern Ireland earlier. The victory was her 150th cap for her country. She is only the second player to reach this landmark after Fara Williams who retired earlier this year.

Predicted XIs

England

Earps; Daly, Bright, Williamson, Greenwood; Walsh, Toone, Stanway; Mead, White and Hemp. 

Northern Ireland

Burns; McFadden, Vance, Rafferty; McCarron; Wade, McGuinness, McDaniel, Callaghan; Beattie and Furness. 

Where to watch

The historic night at Wembley between England and Northern Ireland will be played on Saturday, 23rd October at 17:15pm. 

Live coverage will be provided via ITV1 and ITV Hub for UK viewers only.

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