England U23 Lionesses: Who will Sarina Wiegman be keeping a close eye on during the February camp?

VERCELLI, ITALY - OCTOBER 26: Angelica Soffia of Italy battles for the ball with Ruby Mace of England during the Women's U23 European League between Italy and England at Silvio Piola Stadium on October 26, 2023 in Vercelli, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

England U23 first camp of the year kickstarted with a 3-1 defeat to Spain. However, Emma Coate’s talented team was observed in Spain by Lionesses head coach, Sarina Wiegman. These emerging young talents will have their sights set on senior debuts one day. With impressive performances at both national and international levels, which of these players are headed in the right direction for their first senior call-up? 

Aggie Beever-Jones

Aged twenty, Aggie Beever-Jones has undoubtedly emerged as a young talent under Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side. In ten Barclays Women’s Super League (WSL) appearances this season, she has put herself on the scoresheet five times. She is certainly impressing the head coach with her adept performances upfront, which proves her worthy of a spot in the England U23 camp. In the recent game against Spain, she netted the young Lionesses’ only goal. Shortly after, she was called up to the senior camp for the Lionesses friendly against Austria. Her first time was named in Wiegman’s matchday squad.

Recently, Beever-Jones extended her senior contract with Chelsea until 2026. This is a remarkable move for the youngster, as she has the potential to become a regular in the starting eleven. Huge opportunities will arise for this upcoming talent, especially when she is playing for arguably the most successful English football club. Currently competing for yet another WSL title and taking on the new challenge of winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Chelsea is the perfect place for her to adapt to life as a professional footballer. If she continues to perform, her sights will be set on that number nine position for England one day. 

Embed from Getty Images

Jessica Naz

Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate, Jessica Naz, is impressing with her fast pace that challenges the defence of top sides. Appearing as a super sub for Spurs, she has a tally of two assists and one WSL goal this season. At the age of twenty-three, she is already playing in the highest tier of English football and has been consistently selected for the young Lionesses for over half a decade.

Despite suffering an ACL injury early in her football career, Naz has achieved great things to date. In 2022, she was selected as the Women’s Young Player of the Year at the London Football Awards. She is the only female Spurs player to have been awarded this prize. With her previous success, Naz will be determined to continue grafting hard and show her lightning pace upfront. Hoping to catch the eye of the Lionesses’ head coach, her performance against Spain this week saw her provide the assist for teammate Beever-Jones’ goal. With Wiegman spotted at the match, her senior debut could be on the horizon.

Embed from Getty Images

Ruby Mace

Manchester City’s solid defender, Ruby Mace, is another young talent making a name for herself in the women’s game. Although Gareth Taylor, head coach, has not used her on many occasions in the WSL this season, her loan spell for Leicester City in the second half of the 2022/23 season furthered her career massively. During this time, she was a consistent starter for the club and gained vital experience in competitive, senior football. 

From a young age, Mace has been a part of the young Lionesses’ teams. Emma Coate’s decision to start her against Spain showcased her as a force to be reckoned with in the back line. There is a bright future ahead of her. With Manchester City competing for the WSL title this season, Mace is surrounded by several celebrated players and role models; they will only help her develop even more. Her English teammates, Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp, to name a few, will only drive her to compete for a place in Wiegman’s world-class squad. 

Embed from Getty Images

Anouk Denton

Starting her career at the Arsenal Women’s FC academy, Anouk Denton is emerging as another young player to watch. Only twenty years old, she has made eight WSL appearances this season for the Hammers, six of whom she started. Dominating the right-hand side of the field, Denton has made a positive impression on Rehanne Skinner, manager of West Ham, since she joined the club last summer. 

On an international level, Denton is another player to have been selected for her country since being an under-17. Representing England for several years, she is a rock in defence and a reliable part of the back line. Both her international experience and match time in the WSL present her potential to become a senior Lionesses. With minutes comes experience, and she will certainly be on Wiegman’s radar for future England camps. 

Embed from Getty Images

Ruby Grant

Aged twenty-one, Grant is a defensive midfielder for the young Lionesses. Unlike her teammates, Grant plays her club football outside of England. Joining the then Swedish champions BK Häcken in march 2023, she is set aside from the others. Experiencing European football, especially the Women’s Champions League, gives her an advantage. 

However, her first experiences of football were at the Arsenal Women’s FC academy. During this time, she won Player of the Season three times. Grant recognises her strengths, and how she overcame many challenges when moving abroad in her early twenties. She is consistent and confident on the ball, with a strong presence on the flanks. Therefore, Grant too will dream of being selected for the senior squad soon. Her decision to play in Gothenburg certainly allows her to stand out from the rest and reach her full potential.

Embed from Getty Images

MORE from Her Football Hub: