Sarina Wiegman has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of England’s Euro 2022 clash against Northern Ireland.
The Lionesses’ head coach will therefore be absent from the dugout at St Mary’s, in what is a dead-rubber clash against Kenny Shiels’ already-eliminated side.
Wiegman has overseen a perfect start to the championships, following 1-0 and 8-0 victories over Austria and Norway respectively to make tonight’s game a mere formality.
Her assistant coach Arjan Veurink will lead the side on Friday, but it is understood that Wiegman will remain in remote contact with her players and technical staff.
Despite already securing their place in the last eight, there is not expected to be too much rotation for Friday’s game in Southampton.
Therefore, a number of fringe players will be denied a chance to earn valuable tournament game time – a concern which the Dutchwoman addressed in her pre-match press conference.
“I believe in rhythm – when you have nine days in between the Norway game and the quarter-finals, it’s too long. You need more rhythm.”
“I understand. We have 23 players and only 11 can start. We’ll do what we believe in, in terms of giving us the best chance to win the next game,” she said.
“Of course, some players will be disappointed. But we keep communicating, we keep being clear on what we’re doing and why we do it.”
The Lionesses remain in good shape themselves on the injury front, with Demi Stokes the only confirmed absentee due to a minor knee problem.
It is hoped that the Manchester City defender will be available for selection once again for England’s quarter-final clash against either Spain or Denmark in Brighton next Wednesday.
Wiegman added: “She’s doing well, she’s building up to the next game. Everyone else is fit. We made a plan, for Demi, towards next Wednesday.”