SARINA WIEGMAN insists player welfare should come first when it comes to fixture schedules and the load put on elite women’s aces physically and mentally.
And the Lionesses chief aims to take the form of her Euros winners to the next stage in order to topple their World Cup rivals.
Wiegman was sharing her thoughts with reporters a day before attending Arsenal’s Champions League duel with Lyon last Thursday.
The England boss was watching the match from the stands when her Dutch compatriot Vivianne Miedema was stretchered off after a knee injury in the first half.
Yesterday Arsenal confirmed the Gunners forward had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament after landing awkwardly close to half-time.
The injury saw the Dutch star, who won the 2017 Euros with the Netherlands under Wiegman, join a growing list of elite players across Europe currently sidelined by injuries.
They include Miedema’s Gunners team-mate Beth Mead.
The forward, shortlisted for the BBC’s Sports Personality of Year Award, sustained an ACL injury in November, four months after helping England to Euros triumph.
Wiegman said: “I really feel for Beth. Everyone who gets an ACL (injury) you feel for them.
“She did so well, she was in such a good place. I just hope she will recover.
“It’s too early to say whether she will be (available for the World Cup).
“We just take it easy now, (let her) first recover, and then over the next months we’ll see how it will develop.
“She has to become fit again, taking care of herself.
“She knows she has all the support from Arsenal and all the support from us and the FA.”
The injury to Miedema comes just under a month after the Arsenal forward called for Fifa and Uefa to listen to the concerns of players regarding their workloads.
When asked if playing schedules is something that needs looking at Wiegman added: “In general, for the top, top level players, the schedule is too much.
“Some will have (to play in) five consecutive (international) tournaments in a row including the 2024 Olympics.
“The level of the game has improved and so the load on players physically and mentally – and you can’t split that because we are all human beings – does ask so much of them.
“The growth has gone so quickly so players also need a proper rest to get things settled down and they don’t have the rest.
“After the Euro’s for example, the Manchester City players only had a couple of days off because they went into the Champions League round again.
“That is not good. You can have that sometimes, but they need a rest.
“They need some rest just to get some headspace and get the head and body right.
“I think Fifa, Uefa and the federations just need to do a little better job and all think of the players.”
Next summer will be the third consecutive one in which a major international women’s football tournament takes place with the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
It follows a year that has seen the profile of women’s football rise with 365 million people worldwide tuning in to watch the Euros this July.
Some of the international players from Europe’s top divisions sidelined by long-term injuries before the World Cup include Spain’s Alexia Putellas and France duo Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Griedge Mbock.
Germany’s Guilia Gwinn, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg and United States ace Catarina Macario are also among a number of pros currently crocked.
Wiegman said: “The game is also becoming a more professional game so the commercial part of it is an important one too.
“We need to put the players first. But if there are no commercial parties, how do we make a living and then you have a choice of whether you are a professional footballer anymore.
“It is (about) finding the balance and finding the best way. I think we can do a better job and give players a little more rest.”
Next summer will see Wiegman’s Lionesses kick-off their quest to become the first England Women’s side to win a World Cup
Players from the squad, set to be selected by Wiegman next year, will play their first group stage game in Brisbane Australia on July 22.
Wiegman reckons her team, currently ranked the fourth best in the world, will need to take their game to the next level
The team are unbeaten run under their boss with 26 games without a loss since last September.
The England chief added: “At the beginning of the tournament, because of the amount of countries that join in the groups, it will be a little bit different,
“But when you get further in the level is going to be so high, with different styles of play, different coaches, which is exciting and challenging.
“But we have to take our game to the next stage, to make the chance of being successful as high as possible.”
Wiegman admits her door for selection is open to players performing consistently at a ‘top level’
And the head coach says she and her team have been keeping an eye on Manchester City’s Laura Coombs.
The midfielder has netted four goals in nine WSL games with City going ten 10 games unbeaten across all contests since a loss to Chelsea in September.
The player has made two senior Lionesses appearances with the first occurring England’s 2-1 defeat of China back in 2015.
Wiegman said: “We look at Laura almost every week because she plays every week and, yes, we also see that she’s doing a good job
“It’s all about quality, what do we need in the team. We’re always looking at players.
“With some positions, we have a lot of depth, in others not as much. It’s always open.
“It’s all about talent and performing. showing up for your club team first.
“The door is not closed for anyone playing at a top level.”
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