England’s Nations League group games conclude on Tuesday with a clash against Scotland at Hampden Park.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points ahead of the contest.
Big win could be required
Only table-toppers advance to the Nations League semi-finals, and England are currently second in Group A1, level on nine points with leaders the Netherlands, who the Lionesses beat 3-2 at Wembley on Friday. While the two sides are locked on head-to-head record, the Dutch have a goal difference that is superior by three – so it could be that Sarina Wiegman’s side need not only a victory, but a high-scoring one. The Netherlands face a Belgium outfit that are a point behind in third, while already-relegated Scotland have two points.
This is not only about trying to progress to the Nations League’s last four. England are the nominated home nation for securing a Paris 2024 Olympics qualification spot, something that will be achieved if they advance and then make the Nations League final or, if France are finalists, come in the top three. With England’s success on that front the only way Scottish players will be able to play at the Games, it is certainly an unusual situation heading into Tuesday – ahead of which Scotland captain Rachel Corsie has said it is “absolutely outrageous to question anyone’s integrity”.
Relegation from League A is not out of the equation for England – should things go awry for the European champions and World Cup runners-up on Tuesday to leave them third in the pool, that will put them in the promotion/relegation play-offs. The draws for the finals and the play-offs will take place next Monday, with the matches set to happen in February.
If England need goals, a significant boost is that they now have Beth Mead, the Golden Boot winner when they triumphed at Euro 2022, back in the fold. The fit-again Arsenal forward made her first international appearance since suffering an ACL injury just over a year ago when she came on at half-time against the Netherlands, a game in which Wiegman’s team battled back in the second half after being 2-0 down at the break. At the back, they are again without the injured Millie Bright – goalkeeper Mary Earps captained in her absence against the Dutch.
The teams opened their campaigns in this inaugural edition of the Nations League by facing each other at the Stadium of Light in September, with England edging Pedro Martinez Losa’s Scotland 2-1. Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp netted for the Lionesses before the deficit was reduced in first-half stoppage time by Kirsty Hanson, who subsequently hit the bar after the break.