Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Making World Cup squad would be ‘stuff of dreams’, says Man City’s Laura Coombs

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 May 2023


Laura Coombs says it would be “the stuff of dreams” if her England renaissance continues with a place in the squad for this summer’s World Cup.

The Manchester City midfielder, 32, returned to the international fold when she was called up by Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman in February.

That was her first involvement since a training camp in 2020 under Phil Neville, and she had not played for her country since winning the two caps she had to her name in 2015 under Mark Sampson.

Coombs subsequently played twice at the Arnold Clark Cup and was then included in Wiegman’s squad for April’s matches against Brazil and Australia, for which she was an unused substitute.

On the possibility of making the next squad, for the European champions’ World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand, which is due to be named a week on Wednesday, Coombs told the PA news agency: “It would be the stuff of dreams to be honest.

“It would just make everything feel worthwhile up to this point and it was all for a reason.”

Coombs said shortly after her February recall that she had not given up on England before hearing from Wiegman but “didn’t really think about the international stage any more”, admitting it had been a shock.

On that subject, she added: “I felt, even though I was playing well, Sarina was maybe opting for a young squad, bringing players in with less experience and building for the future.

“So it was a surprise, but I was over the moon to be back involved, and to be back in an England kit has given me more motivation for the future, for sure.”

While 2022/23 has been a mixed bag for Gareth Taylor’s City, who look set to miss out on the Champions League places in the Women’s Super League, Coombs individually has had what she regards as the best season yet of her lengthy career.

The former Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool player said: “I think so. Obviously every season has highs and lows and I think maybe since Christmas I probably haven’t been quite as consistent as I would like.

“But definitely I’d say it’s my best season to date just in terms of minutes and influence on results and performances. I’m happy with it, I still would like some more goals and assists potentially next year, but I’m happy with the start.”

England have been hit by injuries to key players from their Euros triumph in the build-up to the World Cup, including to skipper Leah Williamson, who has been ruled out after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Arsenal last month.

One talking point since has been whether Williamson’s fellow centre-back and predecessor as captain, Steph Houghton, Coombs’ team-mate at City, might be called upon by Wiegman.

The Dutchwoman’s first England squad in September 2021 included Houghton but the 121-cap, 35-year-old defender had to pull ahead of the matches because of injury.

After being out of action for much of the 2021-22 season, Houghton was then named in Wiegman’s provisional Euros squad, only to miss out when it was reduced to a final 23, and while she has had regular game time for City of late, there has been no further international involvement.

Coombs said: “Steph has been playing really well for City. She’s consistent, she plays every game, so if she’s there, it’s fully deserved.”

Wiegman, speaking shortly before Williamson’s injury, said the chances of Houghton making the World Cup squad were “not that high” while stressing she would “never close the door”.


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