England will be without Euro 2022 winning goal scorer Chloe Kelly in the Lionesses’ final chance to qualify directly for a place at the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Manager Sarina Wiegman has named her 23-player squad as the newly crowned European champions face Austria away on 3 September, with Kelly and Fran Kirby missing out due to injury.
A point in the clash will seal the Lionesses’ qualification for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand before a second chance against Luxembourg at a sold-out bet365 Stadium in Stoke on 6 September.
Wiegman has made a total of five changes from her Euros side, with notable absentees including Ellen White and Jill Scott after their retirements from all football this week.
She said: “We didn’t change that much with two injuries and with Jill and Ellen leaving and in defence we didn’t make any changes.
“The Austria one is a very important game because we can qualify, it’s going to be a tough one too.
“They have shown that through the Euros but also through the World Cup qualification.
“I think in football their philosophy will not have changed. This is their last chance to qualify directly for the World Cup, so yes they can chase but we will prepare really well as we always do.
“There’s one focus when we come in next week and that’s qualifying for the World Cup.”
Jordan Nobbs and Katie Zelem will return after missing out on the Lionesses’ final tournament squad this summer, instead watching on as England began their Euro campaign with a 1-0 over Austria.
Wiegman has also named three players from the most recent Under 23s camp with Sandy MacIver, Ebony Salmon and uncapped Lauren James all getting a call-up.
MacIver will replace goalkeeper Hannah Hampton who has been ruled out due to personal issues.
Wiegman said: “Of course, we have been following [James] for a long time and since I came in. She didn’t play that much but we know she’s a very talented player.
“She did work over the summer, she also had a very good prep with Chelsea and played minutes so we want to give her a chance to play with the national team.”
“The value of the Under 23s is high too so we keep them with us.”
Off the back of their historic European Championship victory, Wiegman’s side jumped to fourth in the FIFA World Rankings and will have a mountain of pressure on their shoulders leading into next year’s World Cup.
England have won all eight of their qualification games so far, scoring 68 goals and conceding none, including a 1-0 victory over Austria at the Stadium of Light last November.
But Wiegman is used to a target on her back and is excited for the Lionesses to take the stage once more.
She said: “I don’t know why, but when I came in, I noticed already that all the countries wanted to beat England.
“But now, when you’re European champion everyone wants to chase you.
“Of course, we are used to that and we want to just perform to the highest level we can and when we are connected as a team and play our best game then we can beat all the countries.
“I think the world has changed for [the team], they’ve had so many experiences. So it’s really nice to meet up with the team again and get ready for the qualification games.”