Nikita Parris was not included in Hege Riise’s first England Women squad as she cannot leave her club Lyon due to Covid travel restrictions.
Riise, who succeeded Phil Neville to become Lioness head coach last month, has picked a 20-player squad for an upcoming training camp ahead of a match against Northern Ireland on February 23, the Lionesses first game in nearly a year.
While Jill Scott has made the squad as she looks set to earn her 150th cap in a few weeks’ time, Lyon forward Parris has missed out with Riise revealing it was not her choice to leave the 26-year-old back in France.
“Nikita Parris is in Lyon in France, and the regulation with Covid and the quarantine when you go back to France meant that Lyon did not want to release her,” Riise told a press conference after naming her first squad.
“She will, of course, be in the squad (next time).”
Arsenal’s Beth Mead, who has 25 caps for the Lionesses, was another notable absentee, but this time Riise admitted she had more of a say in the matter, even if coronavirus again played its part with several recent Arsenal games being called off due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
“The report for Beth Mead has not been that great,” she added. “And for me now, to kind of narrow the squad, means that she is out. But as I said, if she performs every weekend, then we will see.
“Of course, she has not played many (Arsenal) games with most of them being postponed, and that has been a challenge.”
The debate over the lack of women’s coaches in the men’s game came to the fore last week after Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes called reports linking her with men’s head coach’s job at League One side AFC Wimbledon an “insult”.
Riise believes there are enough quality female coaches around who deserve a chance in the men’s game.
“I actually think that worldwide there are not many female coaches in men’s football clubs,” Riise added. “So that is something we need to work on together. Having more coaches up the pathway now in all nations, and with Uefa and FIFA putting it high up their agenda, that will change in the future.
“Hopefully, after not too long, there will be female coaches at the big clubs.
“What is the difference? You are dealing players and you are dealing with a game. It shouldn’t be very different. The speed of play on the men’s side and on the women’s side is different, but of course everyone need adapts to the speed of play.”
It has not been an easy start to life in her new job for Riise, who is in temporary charge until Sarina Wiegman takes the job later this year, as she has been unable to spend any time in England as yet due to Covid restrictions, with her role so far restricted to online meetings.
But Riise feels she has seen enough from the players at her disposal to convince her that the Lionesses are capable of great things.
“I have watched a lot of England and club matches and believe this is a group of players who are capable of winning at a major tournament,” Riise added.
“My work from now until Sarina Wiegman’s arrival is to develop their ability, playing style and physical conditioning to contribute to future success – this summer and beyond.
“It is great for the players to have an official fixture to look forward to and is an opportunity to implement everything they have worked on from previous training camps.”
— to www.skysports.com