Phil Neville names his Lionesses side for upcoming Belgium and Norway friendlies
Photo by Alex Grimm via Getty Images

Phil Neville names his Lionesses side for upcoming Belgium and Norway friendlies

There's four debut call-ups in Neville's Lionesses squad.

amillington
Adam Millington

Following the team's fourth-place finish at the World Cup, England manager Phil Neville has named his 24-strong side for the Lionesses' two upcoming friendly matches.

With the country hosting the 2021 Women's European Championship, Neville's side will need to find teams to play against in preparation for that as well as when Team GB compete in the Olympics next year.

England will face Belgium at the Den Dreef Stadium on the 29th August, then Norway at the Brann Stadium on the 3rd September.

The side

There are multiple changes from the side that appeared in the final game against Sweden in the Women's World Cup. Four players have been given their first call-up to represent their country, and a number of key players are missing.

Debutants

Four players - Aoife Mannion, Anna Patten, Bethany England and Sandy MacIver - have all been given their first opportunity to play for their country.

After impressing in her 98 appearances for Birmingham City Ladies, Aoife Mannion was snapped up by Manchester City early this summer to fill the gap left by Abbie McManus' departure. The 23-year-old has already represented her country extensively in the England youth setup. A central defender, she has been named twice in the past two years' PFA Team of the Year

Another defender, Anna Patten departed Arsenal to study and play at Florida State University after not being given enough regular opportunities at the Gunners, only being drafted in to cover for a number of injuries in the side. FSU are one of the best colleges in women's soccer, and she was a crucial part of a 2018 side that won their division. Patten is now at the University of South Carolina, playing for the Gamecocks.

Patten told the Gamecocksonline.com website, "I feel so honoured to be selected to this, To be able to play with players that I looked up to when I was growing up, and be actually selected to play with our senior team, is really what I've been working towards since I was a child. Obviously being able to watch them at the World Cup and then be with them now in this next camp is just going to be an amazing experience, and I am just really looking forward to it and learning from them."

25-year-old Bethany England will also gain her first time with the senior team. She started her career at Doncaster Belles in 2011, making 79 appearances and scoring 28 goals before she made the move to WSL side Chelsea. In her first 19 matches for the London based side, she managed to net five. Her best goalscoring record however came whilst she was on loan back up north with Liverpool, notching in 10 over 16 games in the 2017/18 season. Since then, the midfielder who sometimes plays in a more advanced position has impressed the Chelsea crowds at Kingsmeadow, and many think that this call-up is completely deserved.

Lastly, the 21-year-old goalkeeper Sandy MacIver has been called up due to the injury on Karen Bardsley. She was a member of Manchester City's youth academy - now playing for Clemson Tigers in the USA. MacIver was the shot-stopper in an England side which picked up a bronze medal in the U20 World Cup, making two saves in the shootout to secure victory against France in the third-place playoff.

Experienced trio missing

Three key players who featured in the 2019 World Cup will be missing for the friendlies - Jill Scott, Karen Bardsley and Ellen White.

Striker White - joint top scorer at the world cup with six goals - and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley will both miss out due to injuries, with Phil Neville mentioning that they could miss out on 'a couple of camps'. That could prove to be a big worry for the England side but this will allow other goalkeepers such as Carly Telford and Mary Earps to get a look-in.

Their Manchester City teammate Scott is being rested in preparation for the upcoming WSL season, despite being instrumental in the World Cup side.

The gaffer's thoughts

Speaking with the press, manager Neville said:

"I wanted to reward the players who did well at the World Cup but also the young players who are now coming into this squad. We have to reset the mindset now."

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