England women's national under-23 football team

England Women's U-23
Nickname(s) The Young Lionesses
Association The Football Association
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Marieanne Spacey
First colours
Second colours
Nordic Cup
Appearances 5 (first in 2004)
Best result Third (2005)

The England women's national under-23 football team, also known as England women Under-23s or England women U23(s), is a youth association football team operated under the auspices of The Football Association. Its primary role is the development of players in preparation for the senior England women's national football team. As long as they are eligible, players can play for England at any level, making it possible to play for the U23s, senior side, and again for the U23s, as Natasha Dowie, Rachel Williams and Danielle Buet have done recently. In 2005 Casey Stoney played for the team in the Nordic Cup, despite already having 30 caps at senior level.[1] It is also possible to play for one country at youth level and another at senior level (providing the player is eligible). Helen Lander and Kylie Davies decided to play for Wales at senior level after playing for England U23s, while Sophie Perry elected to play for Ireland.

England U23s do not have a permanent home. When England hosted a tournament in 2010, the event was held at University of Warwick where it was possible to attend and watch without a ticket. Because of the smaller demand compared to the senior women's national team, much smaller grounds can be used.

The team's most recent tournament was the 2012 Four Nations Tournament, in which England finished third. The team has competed in a variety of competitions, including the annual Nordic Cup, which was previously the top competition for this age group.[2] The current head coach is Brent Hills.



In February 1987 the Women's Football Association (WFA) appointed Liz Deighan to run a women's national under-21 team. Deighan had been a star midfielder in the England team which reached the 1984 European Competition for Women's Football. Four years later Deighan was not reappointed and John Bilton took over. The team folded shortly afterwards because the WFA had run out of money. Eight of England's squad at the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup had come through Deighan's U-21 team, including Pauline Cope, Karen Burke and Louise Waller.[3]

FA sanctioned team

In summer 2004, The Football Association (FA) decided to reconstitute the U-21 team in order to give women a higher level of play to better prepare them for the full national team. Senior team manager Hope Powell held a four-day camp in Shropshire and announced: "This is a major step forward for our international teams and will bridge the gap between Under-19 and Senior levels. We have been observing players in this age bracket for the last six months and with the clubs' assistance I believe we can make this a real success."[4] Powell installed her full-time assistant with the senior team, Brent Hills, as coach of the team, which remained an U-21 selection from 2004 through 2008.

Competing as an U-23 team

2008 saw the change of England's youth national women's team moved to the U-23 level. The move was made by the FA in response to age-level changes FIFA had made to its oldest women's youth competition, now named FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. The age limit was raised from being a U-19 tournament to a U-20 tournament. This adjustment, coupled with a newly introduced U-23 age limit to the Nordic Cup, prompted the FA to rethink and eventually change the youth development team. The team continues to serve as a stepping-stone for players to the England women's national team. Brent Hills explained that it had become more of a challenge to break into the senior team: "When I started, if you were an extremely talented 18-year-old you may have been able to get into the senior team. I'll give you an example, Fara Williams. You would have to be the next Kelly Smith now to be able to do that."[5]

Current players

2012 Four Nations Tournament roster

The U-23 women competed in the annual Four Nations Tournament in La Manga against the U-23 teams of Sweden, United States and Norway from 26 February to 1 March 2012.[6]

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Ashley Baker (1990-03-15) March 15, 1990 4 0 United States Georgia Bulldogs
2 3MF Remi Allen (1990-10-15) October 15, 1990 7 0 England Lincoln Ladies
3 2DF Gemma Bonner (c) (1991-07-13) July 13, 1991 7 1 England Chelsea
4 3MF Brooke Chaplen (1989-04-16) April 16, 1989 8 0 England Everton
5 3MF Isobel Christiansen (1991-09-20) September 20, 1991 3 0 England Birmingham City
6 2DF Naomi Cole (1992-03-30) March 30, 1992 2 0 England Lewes Ladies
7 3MF Laura Coombs (1991-01-29) January 29, 1991 3 1 England Chelsea
8 4FW Toni Duggan (1991-07-25) July 25, 1991 7 3 England Everton
9 2DF Kerys Harrop (1990-12-03) December 3, 1990 6 0 England Birmingham City
10 3MF Michelle Hinnigan (1990-06-12) June 12, 1990 9 1 England Everton
11 3MF Jessica Holbrook (1992-08-01) August 1, 1992 2 0 England Everton
12 2DF Grace McCatty (1989-09-28) September 28, 1989 3 0 England Bristol Academy
13 1GK Lauren Davey (1991-06-01) June 1, 1991 1 0 England Watford
14 3MF Jordan Nobbs (1992-12-08) December 8, 1992 3 1 England Arsenal
15 2DF Chelsea Weston (1990-01-27) January 27, 1990 10 0 England Birmingham City
16 2DF Sophie Walton (1989-11-07) November 7, 1989 2 0 England Lincoln Ladies
17 3MF Lucy Staniforth (1992-10-02) October 2, 1992 3 0 England Lincoln Ladies
18 2DF Jemma Rose (1992-01-19) January 19, 1992 2 0 England Bristol Academy
18 3MF Natalie Goode (1992-01-19) January 19, 1992 2 0 England Kettering Town




  • Lopez, Sue (1997). Women on the Ball: A Guide to Women's Football. London, England: Scarlet Press. ISBN 1857270169. 
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