Soccer-England's Kirby and Kelly return to squad for U.S. and Czech friendlies


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Chelsea v Manchester City - Kingsmeadow, London, Britain - September 25, 2022 Manchester City's Chloe Kelly Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - England midfielder Fran Kirby and forward Chloe Kelly have returned to the squad after injury to face world champions the United States and Czech Republic in next month's friendlies.

England manager Sarina Wiegman also on Tuesday named West Ham United defender Lucy Parker and Everton forward Jessica Park in the squad for the first time.

Chelsea's Kirby and Manchester City's Kelly, who helped England win this year's European Championship, are back after missing September's World Cup qualifiers.

England will play at Wembley stadium against the U.S. on Oct. 7 for the first time since lifting their first major trophy in front of a record crowd last July and will take on the Czechs at Falmer Stadium in Brighton on Oct. 11.

"It will be a special evening and a great celebration for our fans, but we also know it will be a challenging game against very strong opposition," Wiegman said of the U.S. match.

"As it will be at Wembley, we want to be able to say 'thank you' to the fans at Brighton.

"They were such a special part of what we all achieved and we will always have good memories of the stadium. They created a brilliant atmosphere that helped inspire us on the pitch."

England won 8-0 against Norway in the Euro 2022 group stage and beat Spain 2-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals at the south-coast stadium.

They are now building up to next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand having breezed through qualifying.

The European champions thrashed Luxembourg 10-0 in their final women's World Cup qualifier earlier this month to finish their perfect campaign on a flawless note with 10 wins in 10 games, scoring 80 goals without conceding any.

"Our focus is now firmly on the FIFA Women's World Cup next summer, all of our time together is vitally important and this is an opportunity for those selected to apply themselves to the best of their ability on and off the pitch," Wiegman added.

"The challenge of facing the world champions is one we look forward to and it is another tough fixture to measure our progress as we look to continue to make the next step forward."

The U.S. game will see the FA marking 50 years since the first Lionesses match on Nov. 18 1972.

England squad

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (West Ham United), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton, loan from Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)

Forwards: Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash)

(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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