England’s Rachel Daly believes calendar in women’s game needs a re-think

Rachel Daly feels the calendar in the women’s game needs to be looked at, describing the amount of games as “excessive”.

England boss Sarina Wiegman last week said the matter was something she was “very worried” about as she named her squad for matches against Scotland at home on Friday and the Netherlands away four days later in the inaugural Women’s Nations League.

The Lionesses’ World Cup campaign concluded with the final on August 20, and there have been Champions League qualifying fixtures since then.

Daly told a press conference: “I do think the calendar is something that does need to be addressed moving forward.

“You’ve seen a significant amount of injuries in the past year or so, which you can only think may be a part of the calendar and the excessive amount of games we have during the season, especially the girls playing in the Champions League as well.

“I do think it needs to be looked at and addressed in the future. But as of right now, we’re not in a position to minimise game time we’ve got, so we just have to tackle it head on right now and put ourselves in the best position physically and mentally to play.

“We’ve got to get straight back into it, with our clubs, internationally, and we’re all just ready to go again and focus on the upcoming Nations League.”

On the process of trying to get back to normality after what was the Lionesses’ first World Cup final, and saw Wiegman’s European champions beaten 1-0 by Spain, Daly said: “Probably the fact it wasn’t in our home country deterred a little bit of the emotion.

Rachel Daly
Rachel Daly says England have put World Cup defeat behind them (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“I’ve bumped into people in the street who say how proud they are, it’s a nice feeling. Everyone knows we’re disappointed with how it turned out but we made the nation proud once again and that’s what we want to do.

“Everyone deals with it a little bit different. But here we are back at it again!”

England open their Group A1 matches in the new competition – via which they can secure Paris 2024 Olympics qualification for Great Britain – with a trip to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to play a Scotland outfit whose dispute with their national association was resolved last week.

The team, captained by Daly’s Aston Villa team-mate Rachel Corsie, withdrew legal action against the Scottish Football Association over equal pay and treatment claims having secured what the centre-back described as “parity”.

Asked about that – as well as the saga involving the Spain team since their World Cup triumph – Daly said: “I think trust and open, honest conversations with federations is something that is massive in terms of growing the women’s game.

“For us as players and people we are always trying to strive for better and what’s right, not just for the players involved right now, but for the next generation and future for years to come.

“To have that platform is something I think probably gets overlooked, but it’s a place that you need to get to in order to petition for more, and what’s right and what we deserve.”

England’s players themselves are involved in an ongoing bonus payments dispute with the Football Association, and Daly said: “We parked that for the World Cup.

“I think people concerned of distractions – there were absolutely no distractions for us at the World Cup, and those conversations were parked.

“We have a great team in place to take those discussions further and I think we’re in a really positive place to achieve an outcome.

“We all want the same thing, the federation and the players want to come to the same agreement. The leadership group and the players that put themselves in front of those meetings are fantastic and do a great job, so I think we’re in a great place.”