Philip Neville has finalised his England backroom staff with the appointment of Bev Priestman as assistant coach.
The highly-regarded Priestman will return to The FA as Neville’s number two after a successful spell with Canada and will join ahead of the Lionesses’ final two 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
The pair will also be supported by Geraint Twose and goalkeeping coach Mark Mason, both of whom have already been working with the Lionesses this year. Mason and Twose will combine senior team commitments with their roles in The FA’s coach education department.
Priestman, from Consett in County Durham, has built a strong reputation in the women’s game. She studied at Liverpool John Moore’s University and worked at Everton and The FA before moving abroad to join the New Zealand FA, where she rose to head of football development by 2011, became a FIFA women’s coaching instructor and worked with international teams.
Two years later she moved to Canada Soccer and leaves her role of director of their U15-23 national teams programme, head coach of their U17s and assistant coach for the senior team – after most notably helping them win bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
England’s next game is a key World Cup Qualifier in Newport against Wales on Friday 31 August, a match which will have a major bearing on who tops Group 1 and qualifies automatically for the tournament in France next summer. England are a point behind Wales, but with a game in hand – which is against Kazakhstan in Pavlodar on Tuesday 4 September.
Priestman said: “I am delighted and excited to move to my new position with the FA and the Lionesses.
“From the calibre of people involved, the investment and the general growth of the women’s game in England, I genuinely believe we can get to number one and I look forward to supporting Phil and the team to do that with my international head and assistant coaching experiences.
“Going into the Wales match as my first camp is exactly the sort of pressure and game you want to be involved in and I can’t wait to get started, get to know the players and the staff as we move towards qualifying for France 2019 and beyond.
“I leave Canada after a fantastic five and a half years with many amazing special memories, which ultimately is down to the players and staff I have worked with. But I believe now is the right time for me to move on, I wish them every success in the future and I will be forever grateful for my involvement.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, FA director of women’s football, added: “I am delighted that we have been able to build such a strong coaching team.
“When Phil arrived, we said we wanted to take our time to get the right staff in place and I think we have done just that. In particular, Bev is a very experienced English coach and it is clear that she shares Phil’s hunger, drive and enthusiasm to do well.
“I also want to thank those brilliant coaches who have worked with us over the past ten months or so, starting with Mo Marley as interim head coach and also including Casey Stoney, Mel Reay and Rehanne Skinner. I know Phil is keen to provide more opportunities for the talented coaches that we have in this country, both within The FA and across our new-look Women’s Super League. This will continue as we look to create an even deeper pool of talent to help the game grow in the years ahead.”
Neville said: “I am really pleased that Bev has agreed to join us. She has a wealth of international football knowledge and vast tournament experience. From our conversations, I can already tell that she will bring a great deal to the role.
“I can’t wait to get out on the pitch together and I know she will be welcomed fully by the players. We have some very important games ahead and having a settled coaching team with Bev, Geraint and Mark on board can only help us.
“I would like to thank Sue and her team for all of their hard work behind the scenes – not just with these appointments but with supporting my first six months in the role. Now it is about being fully focused on the job at hand and doing all we can to get the results we need against Wales and Kazakhstan.”