Williamson back in England squad after injury

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Leah Williamson last played for England in a 2-0 defeat by Australia in April 2023

Leah Williamson has returned to the England squad for the first time since April, having recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

The centre-back, 26, will captain the Lionesses in friendlies against Austria and Italy on 23 and 27 February.

Both games will be played in Spain and will be preceded by a training camp.

Millie Bright, who led England at the 2023 World Cup in Williamson’s absence, misses out with a knee injury.

Defender Bright, 30, has not featured for Chelsea in 2024 after the injury kept her out of the Lionesses’ Uefa Nations League matches in November.

But Williamson has made a gradual return to playing. She made her comeback for Arsenal as a substitute on 25 January and followed that by starting on 4 February in the Gunners’ defeat by West Ham – though she is yet to play a full 90 minutes.

Williamson led the Lionesses to the Euro 2022 title but missed last summer’s World Cup, where England lost to Spain in the final, and has not featured for Sarina Wiegman’s side since a 2-0 defeat by Australia on 11 April.

She suffered the ACL injury eight days later in Arsenal’s Women’s Super League (WSL) match against Manchester United.

Also included in the squad is uncapped Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Grace Clinton, 20, while Manchester City’s Jess Park is recalled.

City goalkeeper Khiara Keating, also yet to be capped by England, joins Manchester United’s Mary Earps and Hannah Hampton of Chelsea in the 23-strong squad.

But there is no place for Manchester United’s in-form forward Nikita Parris, who has scored seven goals in her past six games.

Wiegman’s England are building towards the 2025 European Championships, with the qualifying rounds starting in April and the draw taking place on 5 March.

Short presentational grey line

England squad

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Hannah Hampton, Khiara Keating

Defenders: Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Niamh Charles, Alex Greenwood, Maya le Tissier, Esme Morgan, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy

Midfielders: Grace Clinton, Fran Kirby, Jess Park, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh.

Forwards: Rachel Daly, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Alessia Russo.

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