Neville wants blend of youth and experience to start winning big games

England Women’s head coach Phil Neville wants his youthful squad for the SheBelieves Cup to gain crucial experience in winning big matches.

The Lionesses head to the United States next month looking to defend the crown they won in 2019.

Neville has picked six players in the group that competed for England at the Under-20 World Cup in 2018 as the former Manchester United defender turns his focus to youth ahead of Euro 2021.

A number of senior players also remain in the group, but the 43-year-old wants the blend of youth and experience to start winning the big games after they lost to the USA in the World Cup semi-finals in July.

“We have to start beating the USA and beating the top teams in the world consistently,” Neville said.

“You can probably only judge when it comes to a major tournament and you start winning major tournaments like the USA have.

“We have just employed Dawn Scott, a fitness coach, who has been to the World Cup and won and been to Olympics Games and won and that is where you judge yourself, in the best moments and the best competitions, but along the way you have to experience what it takes to win.

“I think the SheBelieves and the games we have got in the next 12 months are part of a programme that will hopefully give us the experience of how to win games of football against the best opposition.”

Arsenal forward Beth Mead misses out due to a knee injury while Reign FC’s Jodie Taylor and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps are also notable absentees.

Neville praised the Gunners striker and hoped her issue was not serious, suggesting she could be part of the next camp in April.

On Taylor and Earps, he added: “The door is always open to any player that is still available for England.”

The England Women’s head coach revealed he only wanted to take one experienced goalkeeper to the SheBelieves Cup, with Everton’s Sandy MacIver in line for a first senior appearance on the international stage and competing with Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck behind first-choice Carly Telford, of Chelsea.

“It was a choice between Carly and Mary because I would never take a goalkeeper of that experience and play them third and not get them on the pitch,” Neville revealed.

“I explained to Mary it was a one-off decision in which experienced goalkeeper I would take to support the young ones.”

West Ham defender Grace Fisk is another to earn a maiden call-up and Neville described the youngster in glowing terms.

He insisted she could “become one of our best centre-backs” while Everton forward Chloe Kelly returns to the fold after an impressive Women’s Super League campaign to date.

Neville heaped praise on her and admitted: “She has that determination to succeed at the top.”

Manchester City’s Ellen White, who starred at the World Cup, could form an exciting partnership in attack with Chelsea star Beth England after the pair were labelled as the “two best forwards” in the country.

“Every time I see her play she has added another bit of quality to her game,” Neville said of England.

“Without doubt her and Ellen White are the best two forwards in England on form. She rightly deserves her place in the squad and she will be getting an opportunity in the SheBelieves to play.”

England Women squad for SheBelieves Cup: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Toni Duggan (Atletico Madrid), Beth England (Chelsea), Grace Fisk (West Ham), Alex Greenwood (Lyon), Lauren Hemp (Manchester United), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Everton), Sandy MacIver (Everton), Abbie McManus (Manchester United), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Lyon), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Ellen White (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal).