Neville ‘absolutely convinced’ his Lionesses can roar to glory at World Cup

Phil Neville believes he is taking a squad “full of world-class players” to the Women’s World Cup and is “absolutely convinced” England will enjoy a successful tournament.

Lionesses manager Neville has announced his 23-player selection for the competition, which begins in France on June 7.

England, ranked third in the world, are among the pre-tournament favourites and kick off their campaign against Scotland in Nice on June 9.

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“Since I got the job, I don’t think I’ve shied away from the expectations, the ambition of this team,” said Neville, whose side also face Argentina and Japan in Group D.

“And I sit here today in a position where I’m absolutely convinced we can go to this World Cup and have a good successful tournament.

“We’ve got a squad that is highly motivated, we’ve got a squad that is full of world-class players and we’ve got a squad that now has the confidence and belief to go to a World Cup to be successful.

“That gives me great confidence as a manager.”

Lyon midfielder Izzy Christiansen, who suffered a fractured fibula and ankle ligament damage during England’s successful SheBelieves Cup campaign in March, is the most notable absentee.

Experienced Manchester City defender Steph Houghton, who was won 104 caps, will captain the team for the second successive tournament, while midfielder Jill Scott and winger Karen Carney are set to play at their fourth World Cup.

Neville, who has chosen 11 World Cup debutants, said 27-year-old Christiansen would have been fit to feature in France and his decision to leave her out was due to the performances of others.

“She was devastated, as you can imagine. I don’t think I’ve seen a player work as hard since SheBelieves trying to get fit for a World Cup,” Neville said of Christiansen.

Izzy Christiansen has missed out on selection

Izzy Christiansen has missed out on selection (Tim Goode/PA)

“She’s sacrificed everything in her life to get to this point and she would have been fit to go to a World Cup and the selection for Izzy is purely on the performance of the other players that have taken their opportunities in midfield.

“I think I can look myself in the mirror and say every single one of these players has had opportunities.”

Members of the squad were revealed one by one on the Lionesses Twitter feed on Wednesday via a series of videos featuring famous faces, starting with Houghton’s inclusion being confirmed by Football Association president Prince William.

The announcement for her club-mate Nikita Parris, the FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year, was made by former England captain David Beckham, while Raheem Sterling did the honours for PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year Georgia Stanway.

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Actress Emma Watson, presenter James Corden, and singers Ellie Goulding and Olly Murs also made announcements.

“We’ve tried to keep our players humble over the last 12 months but I think today’s the day when you shout from the rooftops, it’s a special moment, they’ve dreamed all their lives about going to a World Cup,” said Neville.

“Today’s the celebration of their efforts, their sacrifices and their performances over their careers.

“It gives me great honour and pride to name these girls in my World Cup squad.”

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England finished third under Mark Sampson at the 2015 World Cup in Canada following an agonising semi-final defeat to Japan.

While former Manchester United player Neville wants to secure an inaugural success for his country, he also believes the tournament represents a major opportunity for the women’s game.

“There’s a bigger picture than just England this summer. There’s going to be the greatest, biggest Women’s World Cup of all time,” added the 42-year-old.

“This World Cup is a tipping point for the women’s game where I think it’s just going to go boom.

“We’re in a period now where it can only get bigger and better and I think that is probably the bigger picture.”

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