England women's national under-23 football team
|Nickname(s)||The Young Lionesses|
|Association||The Football Association|
|Head coach||Marieanne Spacey|
|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. 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. 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 re–appointed 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.
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." 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."
2012 Four Nations Tournament roster
|#||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Ashley Baker||March 15, 1990||4||0||Georgia Bulldogs|
|2||MF||Remi Allen||October 15, 1990||7||0||Lincoln Ladies|
|3||DF||Gemma Bonner (c)||July 13, 1991||7||1||Chelsea|
|4||MF||Brooke Chaplen||April 16, 1989||8||0||Everton|
|5||MF||Isobel Christiansen||September 20, 1991||3||0||Birmingham City|
|6||DF||Naomi Cole||March 30, 1992||2||0||Lewes Ladies|
|7||MF||Laura Coombs||January 29, 1991||3||1||Chelsea|
|8||FW||Toni Duggan||July 25, 1991||7||3||Everton|
|9||DF||Kerys Harrop||December 3, 1990||6||0||Birmingham City|
|10||MF||Michelle Hinnigan||June 12, 1990||9||1||Everton|
|11||MF||Jessica Holbrook||August 1, 1992||2||0||Everton|
|12||DF||Grace McCatty||September 28, 1989||3||0||Bristol Academy|
|13||GK||Lauren Davey||June 1, 1991||1||0||Watford|
|14||MF||Jordan Nobbs||December 8, 1992||3||1||Arsenal|
|15||DF||Chelsea Weston||January 27, 1990||10||0||Birmingham City|
|16||DF||Sophie Walton||November 7, 1989||2||0||Lincoln Ladies|
|17||MF||Lucy Staniforth||October 2, 1992||3||0||Lincoln Ladies|
|18||DF||Jemma Rose||January 19, 1992||2||0||Bristol Academy|
|18||MF||Natalie Goode||January 19, 1992||2||0||Kettering Town|
- "Nordic challenge for U21s". The Football Association. 2005-06-29. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- Lopez 1997, p. 68
- "Soccer: Heatherson looks for England place". Evening Echo. 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- "U23s begin 'rigorous programme'". The Football Association. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- "U23 squad named for La Manga". The Football Association. 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-04-06.