England: Which goalkeeper should start at Euro 2022?

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The Euros are just a few months away. However, the makeup of the England squad is yet to be decided—especially when it comes to the goalkeeper. Sarina Wiegman has used the myriad of friendlies, qualification matches and the Arnold Clark Cup to assess every possible option.

Based on what we have seen so far, Wiegman is going to prefer the 4-2-3-1 formation.

It seems likely that Lucy Bronze will start with Rachel Daly at full-back. Millie Bright’s partner is undetermined. The obvious choice of Leah Williamson has moved into midfield alongside Keira Walsh.

Lauren Hemp is the only attacker assured of a starting berth — the remaining three spots are up for debate. Georgia Stanway, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone, Beth Mead, Fran Kirby and Ellen White all are viable, credible choices.

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The other tough conundrum for Wiegman is the goalkeeping position. England have a crop of talented keepers — they have all impressed for the national side in recent matches.

However, there is no clear favourite. With the tournament creeping closer, it’s now time to assess who actually should be the Lionesses’ starting goalkeeper if England are indeed going to bring it home.

Options to discount

While Carly Telford and Karen Bardsley have both performed admirably for the country in the past, their time has now gone.

It’s fair to say that neither will be starting. Telford will be looking to play more minutes during her new adventure stateside. Bardsley is still yet to recover from her injury which has kept her sidelined this season.

On the other hand, it would not be completely out of the question for one to make the squad, purely for the tournament experience and wise old head that they will offer.

Ellie Roebuck

Despite her tender age of 22, Roebuck already has a significant list of credits to her name. She’s approaching 100 senior appearances, has won the WSL and has also been involved in a further three FA Cup triumphs. Before her injury, she looked like the prime candidate to keep in goal for the Lionesses for years to come.

Roebuck’s ability to dominate her box makes her unique in English goalkeeping. She very much follows the modern mentality of being more of a sweeper keeper, which can help relieve pressure on the defence. Roebuck also excels at shot-stopping and is particularly good at denying opponents in 1-on-1 situations.

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She also provides a genuine ball-playing option from the back as she is extremely calm under pressure and is very good at picking accurate passes.

Roebuck has, however, been recovering from a serious injury and it may take time for her to get fully back up to speed. While she has been recuperating, other names have entered the picture and made themselves very credible options as the first choice England goalkeeper.

You would still expect Roebuck to be the first name in Wiegman’s mind, but it’s not as clear cut as it was 12 months ago.

Mary Earps

Manchester United’s goalkeeper hasn’t always found it easy. Earps faced criticism from her managers and her fans for making poor mistakes and struggling for consistency in previous seasons. However, this year, Earps has managed to put together a string of excellent performances. These have catapulted her back into the national team debate.

Earps is a more traditional goalkeeper who focuses on staying on her line and good ability to read striker intentions to dive and save efforts. While she doesn’t necessarily come out to claim crosses, she is extremely vocal. Her organisation of the Manchester United defence has been impressive this season.

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Earps has 15 senior caps and would be another potential older voice in a young England camp. She is a big personality and knows how to graft.

However, there is one major concern around Earps. A number of times she has been beaten from range by similar efforts. Usually this is because her starting position on her line leaves her susceptible for long range shots into the top corner of the net to beat her.

Roebuck has an additional 4cm height on her, and the small margins can be critical when it comes to goalkeeping.

Earps shouldn’t be discounted for the No.1 England goalkeeper spot at the Euros, but she faces a tough battle for sure.

Hannah Hampton

Hannah Hampton faced a baptism of fire this week. An international debut against the powerhouse of Spain is not a fun prospect, but Hampton passed with flying colours. She was composed, controlled and rightly kept a clean sheet for her troubles.

A player who has an education that has blended British steel with Spanish flair has aspects of both sides in her play. She started as a forward and this comes out with her calm nature and excellent touch. She’s also an accomplished passer, albeit not on the level of Roebuck.

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Previously, Hampton had been susceptible to lapses in judgement. Having a habit of steaming off her line, she did give away a number of penalties and free-kicks. However, she is maturing every single week and is developing well under Carla Ward — first at Birmingham and latterly at Aston Villa.

With only one senior cap, the Euros may come too early for Hampton. However, her development is not going unnoticed. It would not be a shock to see one of the bigger teams start casting eyes toward her at the club level in the next 18–24 months. It would also not be surprising to see her start more games for England.

A difficult decision

It’s tough to predict which of these three players will become the first-choice England goalkeeper.

While Earps offers a steady, experienced pair of hands, Hampton brings the freshness of youth. Roebuck offers a blend between the two, with fewer minutes behind the Lionesses’ defence and at club level this year.

Whoever Wiegman selects will face a daunting task. England are certainly dark horses for the competition this year, and impressive goalkeeper performances will be essential if the Lionesses are going far.

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