England kick off the defence of their Euros title on Friday as they face Sweden at Wembley in the first of six qualifiers for next year’s tournament.

The game will be the first time the Lionesses have played the Swedes since their 4-0 victory that helped lead them to European triumph two years ago.

It’s a return to Wembley for Leah Williamson, who is back in the squad for the first time after recovering from an ACL injury sustained last March.

The defender captained the squad to their Euro win, and manager Sarina Wiegman has confirmed that should she play she will retain the armband.

Williamson’s fitness has been a question leading up to this game however, with the centre-back only able to play 45 minutes before being replaced due to knee discomfort during Arsenal’s Continental Tyres Cup victory on Easter Sunday.

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Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius scored the winning (and only) goal during that match, and comes into this game on fine club form, with five goals across five games in all competitions for the Gunners.

It was a disappointing Nations League campaign for the Swedes; after picking up another World Cup bronze, they too lost out on Olympic qualification alongside England and in fact found themselves in a relegation match after finishing third in their group.

A 10-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina on aggregate was plenty for them to retain League A status heading into Euro qualifiers and they’ll have set their sites on disrupting an England team that seemed to have found some rhythm over the previous international break.

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European qualifying has been split into the same format as the UEFA Nations League; split into three leagues, A and B with 16 teams and C with 19.

Teams compete in groups of four (or three in League C) to determined who ends up as one of the final 16 teams to make the Euros in Switzerland in 2025.

The top two teams from each group in League A automatically qualify (alongside the hosts), with the remaining seven spots going to the victors of European playoffs to be played in October and December 2024.

The Lionesses sit in League A, in a group alongside Sweden, France and the Republic of Ireland.

They are still able to qualify for the Euros through playoffs should they not place first or second in this group, however as the current European Champions the pressure is mounting for them to easily find their way back into the tournament.

England v Sweden kicks off at 8pm BST on Friday 5 April and is available for UK viewers live on ITV.

Featured image courtesy of Carys Wallace.