Sarina Wiegman's Lionesses making most of Marbella winter break despite concerns over player burnout

February 22, 2024

"We love football, it's our lives," declared Georgia Stanway to the media as she weighed up the difficult position the England players have been put in.

The Lionesses have been talking privately about the issue of potential burnout for months. Instead of having a rare summer off after failing to qualify for the Olympics, they have to play Euro 2025 qualifiers in June and July.

For context, the WSL season ends on May 18. The last European qualifier is 60 days later on July 16. That is two months the players could have spent recuperating.

That comes off a run of World Cups in 2019 and 2023, the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the Euros the following year, not to mention the countless youth tournaments for younger players.

To further exacerbate the problem, Champions League qualifiers are on September 4, meaning the players from at least two of the biggest WSL clubs will only get a couple of weeks off this summer.

Stanway, who has not had a summer off since 2016, does not want another player-led battle. They are relying on people higher up to change the demanding international calendar but, as the women's game grows, is anyone at UEFA and FIFA listening?

It is part of the reason England have come to Marbella for a warm-weather camp: to get away from physical and mental stresses by making the most of the sunny climate. It is old-school team bonding but it works.

Unlike at St George's Park, there are no cold, rainy evenings to escape in your room. Everyone is socialising at the pool, going on walks together and enjoying each others' company when not working on the training pitch.

Despite everyone being focused on Austria, Italy and then Euro 2025, the WSL title race is never far from the players' minds.

Wearing bruises and battle scars from a run of recent big games, many international team-mates will become domestic rivals soon again.

Manchester City's Chloe Kelly and Laura Blindkilde Brown have both told us this week how they think their team can win the league this season.

Fresh after beating Chelsea and Arsenal away, you wonder whether they have walked into camp with a little more swagger than usual.

So no summer holiday plans and probably no WSL title chat is allowed during the fun in the sun the players are allowed in Spain.

This WSL season is going the full 12 rounds, Emma Hayes, Gareth Taylor and Jonas Eidevall will be hoping there are no early knockouts during this international break to spoil the fight.

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