Arsenal’s Nikita Parris has been sent home from the England camp for “a few days off” as Sarina Wiegman attempts to manage the workload of her players. “There’s not a big problem – she is OK,” the manager said, when asked why the forward had returned home on the eve of England’s World Cup qualifier against Latvia.
“Nikita has had so much loading during the last two years, from Lyon to England, she has hardly had any rest. During the week we had some chats with her and the medical staff and we decided it was good for her, together with her, to have a few days off. Our squad is fit, everyone can play tomorrow, so it was an option to give her some days off.”
Parris is not the first Arsenal player to benefit from a coordinated rest. The Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema and England centre-back Lotte Wubben-Moy, who both travelled to the Olympics in the summer, were given given time off across the latter half of the previous international break and subsequent week after discussions between the club and their international managers.
One player not given time off was the centre-back Leah Williamson, who is out with a “significant” hamstring injury, according to Arsenal’s manager, Jonas Eidevall. Williamson’s injury prompted Wiegman to express concern regarding overloading when announcing her squad. “We have to consider when they are going to have some rest, physical and mental,” she said. “The are just human beings.”
With the team having beaten Latvia 10-0 away, the game gives Wiegman the opportunity to rotate and consider the workload in particular of Chelsea and Arsenal players, who will be involved in the FA Cup final on Sunday and in the Champions League the following midweek.
“They want to play for England, just like Nikita wanted to,” Wiegman said. “We have a team programme but we always modify where needed, so we always look at individuals, we talk to the players, we listen to them and wherever we need to make an adjustment or modify we will.”
She refused to be drawn on what modifications she will make to the team for the game in Doncaster. Wiegman said of the possibility of selecting some fresh faces: “Maybe. We still have to train today and we make the final decision after training. In the Latvia game away we played with one extra attacker and we might do the same.”
Having dominated in Latvia, with 43 shots to none, England will focus on what they can improve on in possession.
“Speeding up the game, have a high ball tempo but be patient, have runs behind the defence – those things are principles; we’re just putting emphasis on those things all the time,” said Wiegman. “Then in the final third stay aggressive, keep scanning, be composed and of course be ruthless and get the ball in the net.”