Ireland WNT manager Vera Pauw today announced her 31 woman extended training squad ahead of the side’s upcoming friendlies against Zambia, France and Colombia in preparation for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Manchester United centre back and World Cup bolter Aoife Mannion misses out due to a knee injury although could still yet make a return, while four of those picked aren’t linking up with the squad immediately, but rather at later dates as a result of club release implications.
Consequently US-based players Denise O'Sullivan, Sinead Farrelly and Marissa Sheva won’t feature in the camp until June 26th, while it is still unclear when Arsenal’s Katie McCabe will enter on either June 19th or June 23rd, dependent on ongoing negotiations with ECA and FIFA.
Elsewhere four home-based players made the cut in Shamrock Rovers’ Áine O'Gorman and Abbie Larkin as well as Peamount United’s Erin McLaughlin and Tara O'Hanlon, while Liverpool’s Niamh Fahy, Leanne Kiernan and Megan Campbell and London City Lionesses’ Lilly Agg all were selected upon returning from injury.
— Ireland Football ⚽️🇮🇪 (@IrelandFootball) June 9, 2023
Periodisation and McCabe & Mannion's future
Speaking on the release of the squad Pauw outlined the importance of “periodisation” and managing workloads with recovery time due to the staggered nature of the club season conclusions within the team.
“We have a situation where we have the highest level, the second level and let’s say the third level, so it’s a bit different than other national teams but we’ve been dealing with it and have sent every club exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it and why this is so important for the health and safety of the players” she explains.
“The fact that we start on the 12th has nothing to do with the tactical point of view because the team is so far… that is just putting the dots on the i. There’re players who have played their last game at the end of April and that would mean up to 11 weeks of no football in between the last league game and the World Cup, everybody would understand that that is not possible.”
With talks ongoing as to whether McCabe will be in camp prior to the Zambia game on June 22nd, Pauw doesn’t believe the captain will be playing in that first friendly game regardless, although admits that “Katie is Katie and with Katie you never know.”
“Katie McCabe has played her last league game just recently. She will come in on either the 19th or the 23rdbut that is something that is being dealt with the ECA and FIFA and the player and the club themselves” she says.
The other players will understand that the players need to be in and need to be part of a slow build-up… We train with live heart rate monitors, and if she will play against Zambia is related to how fast she recovers from explosive actions, so we will see.
The plan is to not play her but we’ll see when she gets in.”
Wow Katie! Such a deserved recognition. Congratulations!!! 🔥 https://t.co/SREDjFyLeh
— Vera Pauw (@verapauw) June 7, 2023
Mannion’s future is also still up in the air with a meeting with a knee specialist on Monday set to disclose more information as to her potential to make the squad before jetting off to the major tournament.
“She’s coming out of her brace...it will be tight, but possible. I hope… fingers crossed” Pauw adds.
The Dutch manager also spoke of the fringe players who had missed out, with more still yet to be disappointed before the official squad is announced in the build-up to the France game on July 6th.
“The players I called [who didn’t make it] were disappointed of course, most of them had expected the call. It’s devastating” she describes.
“Halfway I had to stop for a moment, to be honest… I’m very much aware I have broken dreams and it will have an impact on careers also.
“It’s elite sport. You have to make choices. I wish I could bring them all. We can’t. So believe it or not, with all the clubs and everybody on Monday, I had to make more than 75 phone calls and I’ve called every single player again this week to see how they are doing and we have offered them support because it can have an impact on their way forward.”
The squad will now link up to train and live at UCD, with breaks at the weekends and on Wednesdays to ensure they “stay fresh and sharp.”
“Every player will have their own room in an apartment, their own bathroom facilities in a central place so they can live more or less a normal life. Our training sessions will be there and it’s more like a club session
“We didn’t want to set up training camps for the entire six weeks because you get tired of each other so this will keep them fresh… it’s also extremely important because if you miss your home for six weeks and then you’re into a World Cup for what will hopefully be a long time, you cannot cope with that and they are not used to that.”
Pauw and her squad will now undergo preparations for these friendly matches before whittling down the contingent to a 23 person travelling group who depart for Australia on July 7th.
Aoife Mannion was beaming with pride after making her Ireland debut against China earlier today
The Manchester United defender has been speaking to @corktod after the friendly draw: https://t.co/CJTPBWSrTu #RTESoccer #COYGIG #CHNIRL pic.twitter.com/2cu6eSowhT
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) February 22, 2023
Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Sophie Whitehouse (Lewes)
Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Áine O'Gorman (Shamrock Rovers), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Claire O’Riordan (Celtic), Megan Campbell (Liverpool), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Tara O'Hanlon (Peamount United)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Sinead Farrelly (NY/NJ Gotham), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Erin McLaughlin (Peamount United)
Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers), Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (Potsdam Turbine), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Saoirse Noonan (Durham WFC)