Today at the World Cup: Sarina Wiegman’s selection poser, Jess Carter stays calm

By Sports Desk August 19, 2023

England are doing their best to make it business as usual as they prepare to face Spain in the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday.

Defender Jess Carter insists there will be no additional nerves ahead of a game she never envisaged being a part of, while head coach Sarina Wiegman is preoccupied by a selection dilemma.

Here, the PA news agency looks at all the latest news heading into Sunday’s big one:

More the merrier for Carter

England defender Jess Carter admits every extra minute is a bonus as she prepares to feature in Sunday’s World Cup final.

The 25-year-old has been one of the lynchpins of her side’s run to within 90 minutes of a first women’s World Cup win but says she did not expect to get this far.

“When I didn’t play against Denmark, I wasn’t not bothered, but it was just like, ‘I’ve just played in a World Cup, I had more minutes than I thought I was ever going to get coming into this tournament’.

“I didn’t come into the tournament expecting to play at all.”

And the laidback Lioness is adamant there will be no stage-fright on the biggest occasion of all, just “positive energy” at the prospect of making history.

“I’m not really a nervous person,” she added. “I understand and know from the outside, it’s the World Cup final, your biggest moment.

“I play my best when I’m super calm. Maybe some people have nerves but I think that will be challenged into positive energy come the night.”

Wiegman’s selection dilemma

Sarina Wiegman faces a selection dilemma ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final as she decides whether to start striker Lauren James.

James scored three times and picked up the same number of assists before she was sent off in the last 16 win over Nigeria, sitting out the quarter-final and semi-final as a result.

Replacement Ella Toone scored in the 3-1 win over Australia in the last four but Wiegman has indicated she holds nothing against James, who apologised for her rash stamp on Nigeria’s Michele Alozie.

“Of course she really regretted that moment straight away,” said Wiegman. “She apologised, she was punished for that and we all know this should not happen in football.

“She started training again and we supported her, because sometimes when you’re not that experienced at this level some fatigue comes in the game and you have just a split second where you lose your emotions.

“That’s a mistake, that’s a hard learning lesson, but now she’s ready to play in the game.”

Vilda’s revenge bid

Spain coach Jorge Vilda is determined his side learn the lessons of their extra-time loss to England in last summer’s European Championship quarter-finals.

Vilda has guided his nation to their first final despite a backdrop of controversy after over a dozen top stars quit the squad last year in a row over their treatment.

Referencing their narrow defeat in Brighton, Vilda said: “It was a game that we know we were on top, but the result is what counts.

“Games against England really require our best. She (Wiegman) is a trainer that with her results has shown the fruits of her work, it’s not easy what she has achieved.”

Shutting down questions over the ongoing issues in his squad, Vilda added: “What we want to do tomorrow is be the best in the world and we’ll do this by winning the final.”

Opened up!

Cornwall Council were the first to heed a plea from cabinet minister Michael Gove to allow licensed premises to open one hour early for the World Cup final on Sunday.

Current regulations mean the sale of alcohol is widely prohibited before 10am on Sunday, but venues such as pubs also have specific hours they can stay open and serve alcohol depending on individual licences.

Gove urged councils to do everything they can to help premises extend their licenses, saying: “the whole nation is ready to get behind the Lionesses this Sunday in what is England’s biggest game since 1966.”

Cornwall Council, in association with Devon and Cornwall Police, were quick to heed Gove’s call, announcing that they will be no “enforcement action” if the alcohol starts to flow slightly earlier.

Swede dreams

Australia’s home World Cup came to a disappointing end as they were beaten 2-0 by Sweden in the third place play-off.

Kosovare Asllani sealed victory with a brilliant second half strike after Fridolina Rolfo had opened the scoring with a penalty on the half-hour mark.

The result rounded off a remarkable campaign from the Matildas, who captured the public’s imagination having only reached the quarter-finals once previously.

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson, whose side suffered a 3-1 semi-final defeat against England, said the journey was far from over, insisting: “We have a massive amount of work to do to capitalise on this.”

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Final: Spain v England (Sydney, Sunday 1100BST)

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