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England Women: Hege Riise says France and Canada friendlies are chance for stars to earn Olympics place

Beth Mead, Carly Telford and Karen Bardsley all recalled to England squad for April’s friendlies against France and Canada; Steph Houghton (injury) and Nikita Parris (coronavirus travel issues) both missing; Niamh Charles and Millie Turner included

By Calum Wilson

England interim head coach Hege Riise says next month’s friendlies against France and Canada offer a chance for players to earn their spot in this summer’s Team GB Olympics squad.

Riise has named a 24-player squad for April’s double-header, with recalls for experienced trio Beth Mead, Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford.

Regular England captain Steph Houghton misses out through injury, while there are first senior call-ups for Niamh Charles and Millie Turner.

Riise, who was confirmed as the head coach of Team GB’s women’s football team for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this month, says there is no hiding the need to “deliver under pressure”.

“What we are aiming for is to have a good performance and win both games,” Riise said. “Meeting France is probably the best we can do at the moment and after we can go back and see what we need to go further with.

“Delivering under pressure will be key because many players know they’re playing for an Olympics spot as well. We can’t hide that, that’s the reality.

“The pressure will always be there when you’re coming closer to a major squad.

“There will be ongoing discussions to pick the players for GB at the Olympics. Seeing them in this camp helps me make decisions but it’s still going to be hard to have the final squad of 18, plus the four coming as well.

“We follow every player that we can in the home nations. I think we have a good view of all of them.”

Explaining the decision to recall goalkeeping duo Telford and Bardsley, who were both left out of Riise’s first squad for last month’s win over Northern Ireland, the Lionesses boss said: “In February, it was important for me to see the talent of the young goalkeepers coming up. Now, in this camp it is for me to see the experienced players as well.

“At the Olympics it will be tight and their experience is important. This is for Carly and Karen to show their experience.”

England squad

Goalkeepers: Ellie Roebuck, Sandy MacIver, Carly Telford, Karen Bardsley

Defenders: Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Leah Williamson, Millie Turner, Millie Bright, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Demi Stokes, Alex Greenwood

Midfielders: Fran Kirby, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh

Forwards: Niamh Charles, Bethany England, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Ellen White

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