England Women’s head coach Phil Neville has injected youth into his squad for the forthcoming SheBelieves Cup, as they look to retain their title next month.
The Lionesses will face 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winners and hosts USA, Japan and Spain in the four-team round-robin tournament next month.
Six of Neville’s 23-player squad competed for the Young Lionesses at the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2018.
And the inclusion of so many youngsters is an indication of a step-change in the focus and direction of the England senior set-up, with the aim firmly on developing a squad ready to win on home turf at EURO 2021 in just over 500 days’ time.
It’s hoped that the younger squad members will benefit from the core group of senior players, whose international experience and expertise will continue to be the driving force behind the Lionesses’ ambitions for future success.
Grace Fisk receives her first senior call up after impressing Neville at her SEC side South Carolina Gamecocks before earning herself a move to Barclays FAWSL club, West Ham.
Fisk has made 30 appearances for England at youth level and captained the bronze-medal winning U20 World Cup squad two years.
Birmingham City’s young goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and US-based striker Alessia Russo, who plays for North Carolina Tar Heels, will also join the squad for training sessions in the US as part of their ongoing development.
“This is a transformational moment for the England Women’s team,” said Neville.
“With eight of our squad under the age of 23 – and six of them having competed in the WU20 FIFA World Cup – we are focusing on developing the incredible young talent we have in the women’s game with a keen eye on EURO 2021 in 16 months’ time.
“All of the young players who have been given their opportunity have earned their places on merit, based on exceptional form and performances at club level as well as for England’s development teams, and I’m delighted to be giving them all the opportunity they rightly deserve.
“Of course, we’ll continue to rely enormously on the world-class senior players who’ve been the mainstay of the England Women’s squad for many years.
“They know what it takes to succeed on the world stage and they can teach our younger players so much about the physical and mental standards required to compete at the very top level.
“It’s also important that we continue our policy of integrating other talented youngsters on camp wherever possible so they can benefit from the experience of training with the Lionesses, and to that end we look forward to welcoming Hannah Hampton and Alessia Russo to the group.
“Despite a largely successful 2019 World Cup campaign we knew we needed to make significant changes to our approach if we’re to be ready to win EURO 2021 on home soil next year.
“This squad is the realisation of months of hard work and refocusing which we have done as a team behind the scenes in recent months.
“Having welcomed new senior staff including Dawn Scott, who is leading on physical performance and nutrition, we can be confident that we’re taking the right approach to maximise our chances of success not just at SheBelieves, but for the mid to long term future of the England Women’s team.”
The Lionesses begin the SheBelieves tournament in Orlando against hosts and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Champions USA at the Exploria Stadium on Thursday 5 March (kick off 7pm local time, Friday 6 March Midnight UK).
The squad then travel to Harrison, New Jersey to take on Japan at the Red Bull Arena on Sunday 8 March (kick off 2.15pm local time, 6.15pm UK), before finishing off against tournament newcomers Spain at the Toyota Stadium, Frisco on Wednesday 11 March (kick off 4.15pm local time, 9.15pm UK).
All three fixtures will be broadcast live on the BBC.
Last year, England lifted the prestigious trophy at the Raymond James Stadium after beating Japan 3-0 to finish the tournament unbeaten. The team will look to repeat last year’s success and start 2020 on a high in the lead up to the Olympics and UEFA Women’s EURO 2021.
Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Toni Duggan (Atletico Madrid), Bethany England (Chelsea), Grace Fisk (West Ham United), Alex Greenwood (Lyon), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), 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 City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Ellen White (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)