What to expect from Phil Neville's Lionesses in France

What to expect from Phil Neville's Lionesses in France

As the Women's World Cup edges closer it is still unclear as to how Neville will set up in France and with which players.

aaron-hindhaugh
Aaron Hindhaugh

The Lionesses head into the World Cup ranked the third best side in the world.

Phil Neville has changed the way they play since taking the job as manager, and they have gone from a counterattacking side to a possession based side.

However, many are still unconvinced that is the best way for England to play despite winning the SheBelieves Cup in America as they beat Brazil and Japan as well as drawing against the USA.

Squad Overview

The squad is full of established Women's Super League players as well as some plying their trade abroad with the likes of Lyon and Barcelona.

It starts with captain and leader Steph Houghton who has not put a foot wrong for club or country in the last 12 months.

Houghton is regarded as one of the best centre backs in the country and will look to lead from the back in France as well as helping herself to some goals from her deadly free kicks.

Neville is spoiled for choice at the other end of the pitch with a number of players performing for their clubs this season.

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Beth Mead and Nikita Parris are two of the most inform attackers in the world at the moment.

Mead has developed dramatically over the last year with the Arsenal player being deployed as more of a winger for the Gunners but continues to display goal-scoring ability for the Lionesses.

Potential up top

Parris is the deadliest English striker in the WSL and would have easily won the golden boot if it was not for Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema.

The Manchester City striker who also plays on the right for England can cause any defence numerous problems with Lucy Bronze behind her.

Fran Kirby is one of the most gifted players in the squad, which is why it is such a shame to see her season disrupted by a number of injuries.

Kirby can create something out of nothing from the middle of the park and was the WSL women's player of the year last year which is why Neville will rely on her at the World Cup.

Toni Duggan is a player that seemed guaranteed a place starting spot about six months ago, but not so much now.

The Barcelona forward is a great finisher but is not guaranteed a starting place in the squad thanks to Mead's emergence over the last year for both club and country.

Duggan did help Barcelona reach the Champions League final but were easily dismantled by Lyons 4-1 in the final.

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Duggan's style of play has developed and improved since moving to the Catalan giants and has become a lot more comfortable on the ball instead of just being a good finisher.

How high are expectations 

Great performances against some of the best sides in the world in the SheBelieves Cup have been overshadowed by poor results against New Zealand and Canada.

However, being ranked theirs in the world and having reached the semi-finals in Euro 2017 anything less than another final four appearance will be seen as a disappointment.

Neville has some of the best players in the world at his disposal, compared to in 2017 when England only had one player in the top 40 of women's football.

With evidence that this squad can beat the best, it is the more stubborn teams who will sit back and defend that will prove most difficult for the Lionesses.

The golden girl

England will have arguably the best player in the world at the tournament.

Lucy Bronze has continued to impress everyone in the women's game with her superb defensive work and ability to read the game as well as adding a few goals to her game this season.

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Bronze won the Champions League and Division 1 Feminine title which included the 4-1 demolishing of Barcelona.

Bronze could be deployed in her natural position at right-back or as a central midfielder which was the case against Brazil and Japan.

No doubt whatever happens in the World Cup a lot will depend on the form of the best right back in women's football.

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