Kirby returns to England squad after 8 months out, Mead not

Fran Kirby returned to the England women’s squad for the first time since suffering a knee injury in February on Tuesday, but Beth Mead has not been risked by coach Sarina Wiegman.

Kirby and Mead were major players in the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph, but both missed the World Cup earlier this year due to injury.

Chelsea’s Kirby has been able to prove her fitness in the first three weekends of the Women’s Super League.

However, Mead has been given more time to recover after only making her comeback for Arsenal on Sunday by coming off the bench to set up the winner against Aston Villa.

England face Belgium home and away later this month in the Nations League with the chance of qualification for next year’s Olympic Games on the line.

Wiegman’s women beat Scotland but lost to the Netherlands in their opening Nations League games last month.

Belgium lead the group on four points, one point clear of England and the Dutch.

The four group winners of the Nations League will progress to the semi-finals with the two finalists qualifying for Paris 2024.

“The group is wide open, so every game is crucial,” said Wiegman.

“The squad have shown their ability to respond to setbacks and I’m sure this will be no different.”

England squad

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Khiara Keating (Manchester City)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (Aston Villa), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Grace Clinton (Tottenham, on loan from Manchester United), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Katie Zelem (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona)

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Alessia Russo (Arsenal), Jess Park (Manchester City)

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