London 2012 stars could return when Hege Riise names Tokyo Olympics squad
The countdown to Great Britain’s Tokyo Olympics women’s football campaign will begin in earnest on Thursday when Hege Riise’s squad for the Games is announced.
An 18-strong group plus a four-player standby list is to be confirmed with just under two months to go before Riise’s side are scheduled to open their Group E matches by facing Chile.
There could be a number of players featuring who were part of the squad for the London 2012 Olympics.
That includes England and Manchester City striker Ellen White and defender Steph Houghton, who has sat out the end of the season with an Achilles issue.
It has been reported that midfielder Jill Scott and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, on loan from City at Everton and OL Reign respectively in recent months, are also set to head to their second Olympics.
And another player who would be making a GB return is Scotland and Arsenal midfielder Kim Little.
City’s Caroline Weir is a fellow Scot looking likely to be included, Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle is a leading candidate from the Wales squad, and it will be interesting to see if any players have made the cut from the Northern Ireland squad who have qualified for the European Championship in 2022.
England and City forward Chloe Kelly is set to miss out after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury earlier this month.
GB are due to take on Chile in Sapporo on July 21, then face hosts Japan at the same venue three days later.
Their Group E fixtures conclude with a July 27 clash in Kashima with Canada, the team who eliminated Hope Powell’s GB side in the quarter-finals in 2012, and who beat England 2-0 at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium last month.
That was the third of three friendlies for the Lionesses with Riise as interim head coach, after Phil Neville – who had been in line for the GB job – stepped down as England boss in January.
They beat Northern Ireland 6-0 at St George’s Park in February and were then defeated 2-1 away by France just prior to the Canada match. Holland boss Sarina Wiegman is to start work as England’s new manager after the Olympics.
Riise, who is being assisted by former Canada international Rhian Wilkinson, was an Olympic gold medallist with Norway in 2000 during a glittering playing career that also included winning the World Cup and European Championship.
The Norwegian was also United States assistant boss when they were crowned champions at London 2012.