Rehanne Skinner has named her squad for the upcoming UEFA Women’s U19 European Championship elite round qualifiers at St. George’s Park.
The 20-player squad will take on Turkey (3 April), Sweden (6 April) and Italy (9 April).
As expected, all matches are invitation-only and not open to the public. I think it is a shame that fans are not allowed to watch the young Lionesses in action or have to ask a player or their family for a ticket.
That’s what I had to do a few seasons ago when Arsenal played Manchester United in the FA Girls’ Youth Cup final. I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket by the parent of a United player with a parent of an Arsenal player also kindly offering to get me in.
I am obviously going as press this time so I’ll have no problem getting in and report on the game against Italy but I know a few fans who would have certainly liked to watch at least one of those games.
The young Lionesses played at the La Manga u19 tournament and most of the squad have been recalled except for Arsenal’s Amelia Hazard, University of Virginia’s Rebecca Jarrett, and Sophia Pharoah from Brighton and Hove Albion.
In their places come the in-form Villa striker Jodie Hutton, who was previously with the u18 team.
Spurs forward and ex-Arsenal player Jessica Naz, who was injured and unavailable for La Manga also comes in.
A contender for a place in the senior World Cup squad, Lauren Hemp, who trained with Philippe Neville’s side at the SheBelieves Cup, has also received the nod. The City striker is expected to take a leadership role on the pitch due to her vast experience, having scored three and assisted three last year at the u20 Women’s World cup.
The full squad is:
Goalkeepers: Emily Ramsey (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Birmingham City)
Defenders: Poppy Pattinson (Bristol City), Olivia Smith (University of Oklahoma), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Georgia Eaton-Collins (University of Florida), Niamh Cashin (Rider University), Naomi Hartley (Sheffield United, on loan from Manchester United), Grace Neville (Millwall Lionesses)
Midfielders: Jess Park (Manchester City), Lauren James (Manchester United), Aimee Palmer (Manchester United), Amy Rodgers (Liverpool), Emily Syme (Yeovil Town), Lucy Fitzgerald (Millwall Lionesses), Ella Rutherford (Bristol City)
Forwards: Jessica Naz (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Ebony Salmon (Sheffield United, on loan from Manchester United), Jodie Hutton (Aston Villa)
What is interesting with this squad is many of them (12) were already in the u17 side that qualified for the 2017 finals in the Czech Republic. There is a strong continuity in picking players at youth level and you would expect a good number of them to play for the u21s and the senior team in the future.
The England u19 sides have a rich history in the tournament with a win back in 2009 featuring Bronze, Nobbs, Moore, Christiansen, and Duggan who are currently in the Lionesses set-up. They were runners-up in 2007, 2010 and 2013 and semi-finalists in 2002 and 2003.
The teams that did well at that level all had one thing in common – a lot of first-team game time with their clubs as nothing replaces experience at international football level.
So, it is interesting to note that there are five regulars from the FA WSL (Hampton, Pattinson, Syme, Rutherford and Hemp) and seven from the Championship (Hartley, Neville, James, Palmer, Naz, Salmon, and Hutton).
Group winners qualify for the finals, to be played in Scotland this Summer 16-28 July. The Simple Digital Arena, Firhill, McDiarmid Park and Forthbank Stadium will also play host to tournament fixtures. The UEFA u19 finals also act as a qualifier for the FIFA u20 2020 WWC and three teams should qualify for it.
It is therefore important for this generation to go to the Euros, then finish in the top 3 to gain more experience at the World Cup and later stake their claim for the senior team with the Euros being played at home in 2021.
There is no doubt that the Elite Round will consist of three tough games, but there is a lot of quality in that team and if they perform to the best of their ability they should make it through to the finals.