Football

Defending champions England head Stateside with belief in youth

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Steph Houghton and Toni Duggan

Image credit: Getty Images

ByCarrie Dunn
05/03/2020 at 15:16 | Updated 05/03/2020 at 16:16
@carriesparkle

Phil Neville leads his England team in this year's SheBelieves Cup in an effort to defend their title - but who are they up against? And what's this tournament about anyway?

WHAT IS THE SHEBELIEVES CUP...AND WHAT'S WITH THAT NAME?

The SheBelieves Cup is a yearly invitational round-robin tournament held in the USA. As for the name, it's part of one of US Soccer's marketing campaigns to encourage girls and women to follow their dreams and have faith in themselves, and not entirely unrelated to their eternally irritating crowd chant, "I - I believe - I believe that - I believe that we - I believe that we will win!"

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WHO'S IN IT?

This time round, it's hosts USA, along with England, Japan and Spain.

WHO ARE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS?

Surprisingly, perhaps, it's England, who have competed in all five editions of the tournament so far and lifted their first trophy last year, recording two wins and a draw in their three matches. It raised expectations for a strong performance in the summer's World Cup - where they ultimately lost when it counted, losing to the USA in the semi-final in France.

WHAT ARE ENGLAND'S CHANCES THIS TIME ROUND?

Middling. The USA go into it as overwhelming favourites, as they do with every competition they play in. They name a squad including co-captains Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe and with only three players with fewer than 20 caps. Spain have picked a somewhat less experienced squad, with Marta Corredera, the one-time Arsenal full back, the most experienced internationally with 75 caps. Japan head to the USA with plenty of their usual stalwarts, including captain Saki Kumagai and forward Yuika Sugasawa.

WHO'S PHIL NEVILLE PICKED?

It's a young squad out there, and it's missing full back Lucy Bronze and striker Beth Mead through injury. Interestingly, Neville has given places to some players who have had great success with the England under-20s in recent years, including their captain Grace Fisk, and Everton's goalscoring star Chloe Kelly. There are plenty of familiar faces too, though, including skipper Steph Houghton, World Cup stand-out Ellen White, and midfielder Jill Scott, who missed last year's success as she sought full fitness ahead of the World Cup.

England celebrate winning the 2019 SheBelieves Cup

Image credit: Getty Images

Phil Neville intends to switch up his squad a lot over the course of the three fixtures.

"The team know that I like to rotate - there's games every two days so we're going to have to manage the load, the minutes and the fatigue of the group," Neville told reporters.

It's tournament football and in tournament football you're going to need every player in your squad.

"With young players, you get that energy, that freedom to play and we've got to make sure we give them the platform to go out and express themselves. It's a new team, a new season and a clear, new direction that we are going in."

FULL ENGLAND SQUAD

Millie Bright (Chelsea), 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).

WHEN ARE THE MATCHES?

ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Thursday 5th March

  • Spain v Japan (9.15pm GMT)

Friday 6th March

  • USA v England (12 midnight, Thursday night/Friday morning)

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY

Sunday 8th March

  • Japan v England (6.15pm GMT)
  • USA v Spain (9pm GMT)

FRISCO, TEXAS

Wednesday 11th March

  • England v Spain (9.15pm)
  • USA v Japan (12 midnight, Wednesday night/Thursday morning)
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