Squad rotation in a big tournament makes sense. England's freshness helped them to victory in the Women's World Cup quarter-final over the more sluggish Norway.
Phil Neville had admitted that his side needed to improve on what they had shown so far in the tournament if they wanted to progress; they had been less than impressive in possession, and some of their passing had been somewhat sloppy.
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Certainly they improved against Norway. They capitalised on the space left by tired Norway legs, and they were incisive rather than wasteful with their goalscoring chances.
But it's also worth noting that England's best performers were the ones who have had chance to establish themselves over the course of the five matches so far - Ellen White, a contender for the golden boot, playing four matches; Nikita Parris, whose pace caused no end of problems to the Norway defence, also with four matches; Lucy Bronze, dancing down the right wing, an ever-present; Fran Kirby, with her magical vision, with four matches as well.
For all his talk of freshness and switching things around, it seems that Neville not-so-secretly wants to keep the core of his starting eleven intact.

Ellen White celebrates with the England substitutes' bench

Image credit: Reuters

The Lionesses head coach has said previously that he has faith in every member of his squad. When he revealed that Steph Houghton was still aching from that awful challenge from Alexandra Takounda at the end of the Cameroon match, and that Millie Bright had been suffering from a virus that had swept through the camp.
He described Bright's availability in particular as "a big boost".
One could not help but think sympathetically of the pair who had been expected to slot in at centre back in the absence of Houghton and Bright - and wonder whether Neville's declaration that "I put my life on Leah Williamson and Abbie McManus if they're called upon to be the best two players on the pitch" was more poetic than accurate.
Neville's tinkering in the run-up to the World Cup and during the group stages obscures what is becoming more evident - he is just starting to work out what his best side is, with a group of six or seven players essentially writing their own names on the team-sheet if available, and the rest slotting in around them dependent on opposition and fitness.
And that's good. It's heartbreaking for Beth Mead, who ran herself into the ground and created so many opportunities for the side in the absence of the injured Toni Duggan in the first few matches, and teed up Bronze for that screamer of a third goal against Norway. It's devastating for Williamson and McManus, who must have been hoping for their chances to shine and to show the coach that he was right to have such confidence in them - but all three will have more World Cups in which they will be the starters, and the stars.
This is the right time for Neville's established England to step it up...and finally click.
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