To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

SPORTbible settle the debate on who should start up front for England at the Women's World Cup

SPORTbible settle the debate on who should start up front for England at the Women's World Cup

Sarina Wiegman has a choice to make for who starts for the Lionesses in their opening World Cup game against Haiti.

England kick off their attempts to win the Women's World Cup for the first time on Saturday morning against Haiti. The European champions are favourites for the match but there are questions for Sarina Wiegman ahead of the match, with one particular selection dilemma becoming increasingly clear.

It's only a year since the Lionesses became the champions of Europe, beating Germany in extra-time in the final at Wembley in dramatic circumstances.

Undoubtedly, they are one of the favourites to be crowned champions of the world when this summer's tournament in Australia and New Zealand finishes.

However a lot has changed in the 12 months since that famous day at Wembley and the team against Haiti will not be the same one that beat Germany.

The team have had to deal with a number of high-profile injuries to the likes of Euros top scorer Beth Mead, star forward Fran Kirby and captain Leah Williamson.

A few players also retired following last summer with influential midfielder Jill Scott and starting striker Ellen White hanging up their boots.

The absence of White has left Wiegman in need of a new starting No.9 and, ahead of the opening game, two of our writers have put forward the case of Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly to fill that spot.

Ryan Sidle - Alessia Russo

As a fan of Manchester United, I'm going to have to do this one through the emotion of having seen Russo leave United for Arsenal this summer.

The 24-year-old striker has already shown what she can do on the highest stage after being integral to last summer's success.

During the tournament she was used as White's understudy, coming on in the second half once the legendary forward had laid the groundwork. Promoting her to the starting position makes the most sense.

She scored 13 goals in 24 appearances for United last season as they finished second in the WSL and as runners-up in the FA Cup, qualifying for the Champions League last season.

Russo also bagged seven times in 15 appearances for England in 2022 so she's definitely proved to be consistent when it comes to goalscoring.

Russo's backheel proved she's the woman for the big occasion. Image: Getty
Russo's backheel proved she's the woman for the big occasion. Image: Getty

However, the former Brighton player is about more than just goals and is the complete forward who acts as a focal point for others to play off and is also good in transition.

She has an excellent passing percentage and a good number of dangerous passes per 90 minutes, sitting at 79.37, and wins 85.2% of her aerial duels. Russo will bring the wide players and other attackers into play.

And, perhaps most importantly, there's the amazing backheel against Sweden from the Euros semi-final which proves she can provide magic at the most clutch moments. Russo can win England the World Cup one way or the other.

Ella Scott - Rachel Daly

After a tremendous first season at Aston Villa, it's unbelievable to think that Wiegman relied on Rachel Daly to be her starting left-back last summer.

Following the successful tournament, the 31-year-old surprised fans by signing a three-year deal with Carla Ward’s Aston Villa. She was handed the No.8 shirt and the chance to play as their starting striker.

Her Herculean efforts in front of goal began during her club debut in September last year, when she netted twice in the club’s unexpected 4-3 victory over Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City.

From then on, Daly was allowed to showcase her skill as a prolific goalscorer. Netting 22 league goals in 22 games, she helped Villa to finish fifth in the Women’s Super League and snatched the coveted Golden Boot from under Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw’s nose.

Russo, however, finished fifth in the race with her former club, Manchester United. She scored 10 goals in 20 games - one fewer than Daly scored in her last five league outings.

Daly won the WSL's Golden Boot last season. Image: Getty
Daly won the WSL's Golden Boot last season. Image: Getty

Wiegman even had to resist playing her at left-back and against Norway last November, she scored the Lionesses' only goal in a 1-1 draw.

The Dutchwoman again called on the 31-year-old during England’s impressive Arnold Clark Cup campaign. Her brace against Italy earlier this year earned her a Player of the Match award and helped the team to clinch the championship trophy for the second time.

Russo has also played in the No. 9 spot as the manager tries to find her White replacement. However, out of the five appearances she has made this year, she has only converted once for her country.

When Daly takes her chances, she shines. With her supreme vision and creativity on the field, she could be the deciding factor to help England romp their way through the World Cup knockout stages.

Russo has also proven herself to be an excellent impact substitute, a role that Wiegman made as integral as those who featured in the starting XI on the run to European glory and Russo can help keep that trend this time round too.

Daly and Russo could be battling it out to start for England. Image: Getty
Daly and Russo could be battling it out to start for England. Image: Getty

Certainly the starting striker might be the most pressing issue for the manager to sort during the World Cup, especially with captain Millie Bright passed fit for the start of the tournament.

The side have failed to score in their previous two games, including the loss to hosts Australia back in April, which ended their long undefeated run.

Neither Daly or Russo have scored since the former's brace against Italy in the Arnold Clark Cup match in February, four games ago.

That might mean neither striker actually starts against Haiti, with the manager also having Tottenham Hotspur attacker Bethany England to pick from.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Football, Womens Football, Womens World Cup, England