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Analysing Phil Neville's first England Women's squad

Wednesday 28th February 2018

Suspense and drama trailed Phil Neville's first England Women's squad earlier this month. Ahead of this week's SheBelieves Cup, Neville unleashed his Lionesses to do battle in America. While there were some surprise inclusions, certain omissions raised eyebrows.

England's campaign begins against France in Ohio on Thursday. Next, they face Germany on Sunday. Finally, the hosts on Wednesday, 7 March in the four-team tournament. Here is a breakdown of PNev's selections. 

Debutants

Abbie McManus

Former U23 defender McManus will be eager to make a solid impression on Neville's team. The Manchester City star has dazzled this term, starting all the Sky Blues' FA Women's Super League matches and contributing two goals. A mighty shoe awaits the 25-year-old, though, having been called up as a late replacement for skipper Steph Houghton.

Georgia Stanway

Similar to McManus, Stanway took advantage of a senior colleagues' misfortune. Still 19, Stanway has shown exceptional promise since breaking into City's first team in 2015. This season, the former U17 captain has featured seven times in the league, hitting the net thrice. Karen Carney's late withdrawal prompted her invitation, meaning she must outdo the veteran Arsenal forward to stand any chance in the future.

Hannah Blundell

Blundell is another making the massive leap from the U23s. Skillful, athletic, and pacey, the 23-year-old's versatility in defence and attack will surely benefit Neville's team. She's displayed that consistently for the past four years at Kingsmeadow. Now the Chelsea star must convey the same form on the international scene.

Gabby George

George isn't entirely new to the Lionesses, having previously been called upon for last November's qualifiers, in which she failed to feature. The Everton defender will relish her chances in the US. Gabby hasn't missed any of the Toffees 10 league games this term. 

Returnees

Anita Asante

Asante is the biggest returnee to the national fold. The experienced Chelsea defender, last called up in 2015, claimed former boss Mark Sampson was wrong to overlook her. She had also supported Eni Aluko when the striker made claims of bullying and racism against Sampson last year. Her comeback was a clear political statement by Neville. Expect her to add to her 67 caps.

Rachel Daly

Her absence wasn't as publicised as Asante's but Daly returns after almost two years in the dark. The 26-year-old has failed to add to her seven caps despite inspiring form for US-based Houston Dash. Now she has the opportunity to showcase her expertise in a tournament to be held close to her club's home ground.

Notable absentees

Eni Aluko

Aluko's two-year sabbatical from international football seems likely to drag on. Aluko was subject of an apology from the Football Association last year for discriminatory language made by Sampson. Neville, though, has assured the Chelsea forward of a recall, provided her form appreciates. Indeed, the 102-times capped Aluko hasn't been at her usual best this term. Just seven times she's started for the Blues in the league. She has scored four times though. 

Courtney Sweetman-Kirk

Yet again, Sweetman-Kirk must wait for her chance with the Lionesses. Despite superb form for Everton with five strikes in 10 appearances, Neville seemingly wasn't impressed. Maybe he's bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of favouritism towards his old club. Sweetman-Kirk last appeared for her country at U23 level in 2013. 

Elsie Johnson

Elsie is an ardent follower of everything football. Fascinated by professional football in Spain, England and Germany. She takes pleasure in penning down her opinion about a sport that has more lovers than haters.

PS: She loves Barcelona for making football look easier than it actually is.


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