England Women manager Phil Neville wants his team to put on a show against Germany at a sold-out Wembley on Saturday and knows they must produce their best to win.
The Lionesses are set to play in front of a record crowd for a women’s match held in the UK, beating the attendance of 80,023 for the 2012 Olympic final between the United States and Japan in London.
It will be a momentous occasion, but Neville’s team have struggled since reaching the World Cup semi-finals in the summer.
A 1-0 win over Portugal last month ended a five-match run without a victory and they are now coming up against the second best side in the world.
Neville said: “When you get to games like this, my experience tells me you have to forget the sideshow and circus that is going on around this occasion and, as players, we have to be 100 per cent focused on producing a good performance and winning the game.
“I think that is really important for the people that are coming, for England to put on a good show and to perform and win.”
The former Manchester United defender has been impressed with the mindset of his players ahead of Saturday’s game with Germany and next week’s encounter in the Czech Republic.
He added: “The magnitude and occasion and where it is being played has definitely inspired the players.
“It will be a great end to the year and I think the size of the occasion and this type of challenge is what the players need.
“Coming off the back of the World Cup where we all reached a massive emotional high, we have probably all found it a little bit difficult to get back up to that high mentally and physically, but this is the type of game where they are no excuses.
“It’s the biggest game the England women’s team have ever had in terms of the size of the game and I think emotionally, physically and tactically we need to be at our very best.
“The focus this week has been great. There has been a great buzz in the camp and everyone is ready for 5.30pm tomorrow.”
Neville will be without Atletico Madrid forward Toni Duggan on Saturday, with a lower back injury forcing the attacker to pull out of the squad.
Manchester City duo Gemma Bonner and Georgia Stanway have received call-ups as a result, but the Lionesses’ manager already knows his starting XI.
“It’s not a game for rotation. It is a game against the second best team in the world where we will need all our best players on the pitch and that’s what we’ve done,” Neville said.
“We’ve selected the team, the players know the team and they’ve prepared well.”
Jill Scott was part of the England side which faced Germany at Wembley in 2014 and lost 3-0 in front of 45,619 spectators, which remains a record attendance for a Lionesses home fixture.
She said: “It was a learning curve. I remember Germany played a lot better than us on the day and at the time Mark Sampson probably learned a lot from that game in terms of formation.
“We actually changed then heading into 2015 and the World Cup and although it was a bad result, without it I don’t think we would have gone on and got the bronze medal and we beat Germany in that bronze medal match.
“That was a lot sweeter than them probably winning here at Wembley, but it was a fantastic occasion and there was over 40,000 people.
“To think, hopefully, that number will be doubled tomorrow just shows the progress the women’s game is making.”
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