Steph Houghton and Jordan Nobbs have given Phil Neville a boost with their recall to the England squad for the resumption of FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying next week.
Houghton and Nobbs, of Manchester City and Arsenal respectively, are back in the fold after each missed the SheBelieves Cup in the United States earlier this month through injury. Reading’s Mary Earps and Arsenal’s Beth Mead are also notable additions to the squad.
England’s best-ever performance at the SheBelieves Cup has seen them move up to second in the world – just behind the US team who narrowly beat them 1-0 in the final game but ahead of UEFA rivals Germany.
England will welcome Wales to Southampton FC’s St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday 6 April, for their first fixture at the Premier League ground since 2006. Wales top qualifying Group 1 with ten points from four games, a point ahead of England having played a game more. The match will be followed by a trip to meet Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday 10 April and two positive results would mean a big step towards qualifying for the 2019 finals in France.
Speaking for the first time since the US trip, Neville said: “I am really pleased for the players that their hard work has been recognised in the new rankings. To get to second in the world is a wonderful achievement, but if we want to take the last – and biggest – step to become No1 then we have to deliver in matches like the two we have coming up. Because of what’s at stake, they are more important than the SheBelieves and we will prepare accordingly.
“Wales will be my first competitive match in charge and it will be an incredible honour to walk out at a packed Premier League ground with this group of players. I have been so impressed at how they have reacted to what I and the coaches have asked of them in everything we do on and off the field.
“In particular, the young players have really taken their chance to shine. We are delighted to have Steph and Jordan back, but we also want to keep giving opportunities to the next generation coming through. I hope as many people as possible come out to support them – especially with the game coming in the middle of the Easter school holidays.”
Casey Stoney will continue her key support role as part of The FA’s player-to-coach scheme while Neville has also asked Sunderland coach Melanie Copeland to assist him with this camp. With Mo Marley, who travelled to the SheBelieves Cup, focusing on the U20s’ own World Cup this summer, Neville is keen to keep providing opportunities within the women’s game.
He added: “I am delighted to have Mel coming with us for the next camp. I have said I want to give more elite international experience to the talented coaches we have in this country.
“With the plan being to finalise my permanent staff after the end of the season, we may do something similar with the June camp as well. I would also like to thank Sunderland for their support in allowing Mel to come and work with us.”
Melanie Copeland added: “I’m honoured to have been asked to work with the England senior women’s team and feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity. I really look forward to working with players, the other backroom staff and Phil Neville, who I would like to thank for giving me the chance to work with the Lionesses.”
Karen Bardsley Manchester City, Mary Earps Reading, Carly Telford Chelsea
Hannah Blundell Chelsea, Millie Bright Chelsea, Lucy Bronze Lyon, Rachel Daly Houston Dash, Gabby George Everton, Steph Houghton Manchester City, Abbie McManus Manchester City, Demi Stokes Manchester City
Isobel Christiansen Manchester City, Fran Kirby Chelsea, Jordan Nobbs Arsenal, Jill Scott Manchester City, Keira Walsh Manchester City, Fara Williams Reading
Toni Duggan Barcelona, Melissa Lawley Manchester City, Beth Mead Arsenal, Nikita Parris Manchester City, Jodie Taylor Seattle Reign, Ellen White Birmingham City
Tickets for the Wales match at St. Mary’ Stadium, Southampton are on sale. Children and concessions tickets are just £1 and group booking and Charter Standard discounts apply.
Tickets can be purchased here or by calling 02381 780 780.
You can find more information here.
Report courtesy of The FA