Lionesses opt for experience in final two #FIFAWWC qualifiers

Photo: Lynne Cameron for FA

Phil Neville has named an experienced England squad for the final two matches of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Lionesses must avoid defeat away at Group 1 leaders Wales on Friday 31 August to keep their hopes of automatic qualification alive. A victory for either side in Newport would take the winners through to the finals while a draw would mean England, a point behind Wales but with a game in hand, could still top the group with a victory in Kazakhstan on Tuesday 4 September.

Neville said: “We are looking forward to the Wales game and know we have to be ready for the challenge. They will be determined to make the most of home advantage and their crowd will be expecting a victory.

“Wales are top of the group and deserve total respect. We will have to be at our very best to get the result we need and no one in our squad is looking beyond this match. I know my players are up for it and will be fully focused on the job they have to do.”

Only Gabby George in the 23-player squad is yet to receive a senior cap, while Neville has been able to welcome back Manchester United defender Alex Greenwood after suspension ruled her out of the trip to Russia in June. That fixture saw Jill Scott score twice after an early goal from Nikita Parris and both have retained their place in the selection.

The fixtures will also be the first for Neville’s new-look backroom staff with the appointment earlier this month of Bev Priestman as assistant coach. The highly-regarded Priestman returned to The FA as Neville’s number two after a successful spell with Canada and will take her place on the bench alongside assistant coach Geraint Twose and goalkeeping coach Mark Mason.

With both Wales and England guaranteed at least second place in Group 1, there is still a potential route to the finals for whoever does not top the section once all matches are concluded. The best four runners-up from all seven groups will go into a play-off competition for the one remaining European place at next summer’s finals in France.

?: The game will be LIVE on BBC TWO.

England squad

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Manchester United ), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Abbie McManus (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Lyon), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Reading)

Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

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