England won their first SheBelieves Cup title last year, could Phil Neville’s Lionesses replicate that success and become the first team to win back-to-back titles?Embed from Getty Images
Olympics conversation is banned in the England camp for the SheBelieves Cup. All focus is on the three teams that await the Lionesses in the March tournament.
Phil Neville’s squad is an interesting one to say the least. Some injuries have ruled out potentially key players.
Beth Mead is out with ligament injuries, Mary Earps has been left out in favour of Ellie Roebuck and Sandy MacIver.Embed from Getty Images
Roebuck was lucky to escape with only a small injury after being stretchered off during Manchester City’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea at the Academy Stadium in February.
Lucy Bronze, however, did have to pull out due to injury. She was replaced by Alessia Russo, who is currently at the North Carolina Tar Heels.
There’s no room for Gemma Bonner as Grace Fisk gets her first call up to the national squad.Embed from Getty Images
Chloe Kelly also receives her first international call up following her impressive form in the Women’s Super League this season.
The big names are all still in the squad – Rachel Daly, Ellen White and Jill Scott are all in.
Beth England is also in the squad. She is hot on the heels of Vivianne Miedema in the golden boot race in the WSL this season.
Full England squad:
Ellie Roebuck (Man City), Sandy MacIver (Everton), Carly Telford (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Abbie McManus (Man United), Steph Houghton (Man City), Alessia Russo (North Carolina Tar Heels), Grace Fisk (West Ham), Demi Stokes (Man City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Man City), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Toni Duggan (Atletico Madrid), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Lauren Hemp (Man City), Bethany England (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Everton), Nikita Parris (Lyon), Ellen White (Man City)
What to expect
Last year’s SheBelieves Cup was a massive milestone for the Lionesses. They’ve been a ‘nearly’ team over the years and it was the first time that they seemed to be a big threat.
They then performed incredibly at the World Cup, finishing fourth. They’ve been to the semi-finals of the premier competition in world football twice, losing on both occasions.Embed from Getty Images
The SheBelieves Cup 2020 is another opportunity for England to assert themselves in the picture of the best teams in the world once more.
The ideal scenario for Phil Neville would be to make England seem like the biggest threats to the US heading into this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
There’s been a lot of talk around the subject of the Olympics, with only 18 spots available in the team. The SheBelieves Cup will be the audition period for the England stars that are hoping to be taken to the tournament in July.
As for individual games go, none of them are bankers. Spain are an ever-evolving superpower who are continuing to grow and threaten on the world stage.Embed from Getty Images
Japan have spent the best part of the last half-decade building up to the Olympics, their home-team advantage at the tournament has sprouted a sense of patriotism much like that at the Rugby World Cup last year.
They will be using the SheBelieves Cup as the last step in their preparation for the Olympics. They will be ready to flex their muscles and show off all the progress they have made.
Then there is the US of A…
Can England stop the USWNT?
The US are the reigning World Cup champions. They beat England on their way to claiming their historic fourth crown. Can that much really have changed since last summer’s encounter?
The England team that faces the US on March 6 at 00:00 (GMT) will look much different from the team that fell 2-1 in the World Cup semi-final — providing Phil Neville picks a sensible team.
There could be as many as five or six changes to that side. If Ellie Roebuck is fit enough, she should surely start in goal. With Lucy Bronze out and Jade Moore and Fran Kirby not in the squad, there are three more guaranteed changes.
If Leah Williamson starts, that’s five changes to the side that lost 2-1 at the World Cup. This could be the best prepared an England side has been to take down the US in recent memory.