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England coach Sarina Wiegman wants clubs to release players early for World Cup

LONDON – England manager Sarina Wiegman said her plans to prepare the team for the Women’s World Cup are being put in jeopardy with clubs reluctant to release players in time to begin a training camp on June 19.

The tournament in Australia and New Zealand kicks off on July 20 with England starting their group campaign two days later against Haiti.

Fifa’s original deadline for clubs to release players was July 10, but that drew sharp criticism that it did not give national teams long enough to prepare.

The global governing body and European Club Association (ECA) then reached an agreement for players to be released from June 23 to 29 when their domestic seasons are completed.

Wiegman said that would still leave her less than three weeks with her squad, which she named on Wednesday, while she also wanted to have a warm-up game before they left for the World Cup.

“If we start on the 19th, we have enough days to get ready for such a game. If we start later, then the players are even longer out from football and then you have too short a time to get ready for a fixture,” Wiegman said.

“That’s frustrating because we have all our plans and we thought we were all set and then like a month ago, all of a sudden, things change... We didn’t expect that, it is so late. We have to collaborate and try to solve (the calendar).

“But now it’s a short time... That’s frustrating and it’s hard too, because this is not the time to do this. It’s a time to do that later and solve it after this tournament.”

Her frustrations were shared by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, coach of the Germany team that finished runners-up to the Lionesses at the 2022 European Championship.

She revealed that Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich would not be releasing players until June 23, rather than the June 20 deadline previously agreed between the clubs and the DFB – the German football association.

“We are disappointed about this as it has a significant impact on our preparation” said sporting director Joti Chatzialexiou.

Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to a runners-up finish at the 2019 World Cup and England to the Euros title last year, was also worried about the impact jet lag will have on the squad.

“It’s two days for travelling – you can’t start training straight away because you first have to do (recovery from) jet lag. So we really need that time to get prepared.” REUTERS, AFP