Five Lionesses will return home to Yorkshire tomorrow afternoon as England Women host their counterparts from Sweden at Rotherham’s New York Stadium.
Sheffield-born goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck, 19, made her international debut on Thursday evening, coming on as a late subsitute in a 3-0 win over Austria. Beth Mead of Whitby, Lucy Staniforth of York and Millie Bright of Killamarsh are also in Phil Neville’s squad.
But it is Harrogate-born Rachel Daly who is making the longest trip back to Yorkshire, crossing the Atlantic from her duties with National Women’s Soccer League side Houston Dash.
Formerly of Leeds United, Daly’s efforts were rewarded as she came off the bench to score against Austria on Thursday, adding to goals from debutants Chioma Ubogagu and teenager Georgia Stanway.
A 3-0 win over Wales in August saw England qualify for next year’s World Cup in France with a game to spare, and manager Neville is keen to give chances to youngsters ahead of the tournament.
That was underlined on Thursday as four players made their international debuts, with Mead and Staniforth among the players to have also made their senior bows since that Wales game.
I tried not to think about it all day, because I knew I was playing. You try not to think about it so you don’t get as nervous, but I loved every minute.Georgia Stanway
Roebuck and Stanway are teammates at WSL title challengers Manchester City, and the latter could hardly hide her joy after helping England to victory against Austria with a sweetly- struck effort into the top-right corner.
“It just kind of went by so fast,” said Stanway.
“I tried not to think about it all day, because I knew I was playing. You try not to think about it so you don’t get as nervous, but I loved every minute.
“To walk out with the girls was extra special and to sing the anthem with them was even better. It’s one of them; every time you wear the England shirt you feel exactly the same, but to do it as a senior is just that little bit extra special. I just loved it.”
Having not featured against Austria, Yorkshire representatives Bright and Mead are expected to be given a chance to impress on home soil tomorrow.
Neville has told the squad that everybody would be given some minutes across the two games, and Roebuck will be hoping to add to her 11 minutes of senior international football.
A sell-out crowd is expected tomorrow (kick-off 1.30pm) with 12,000 fans expected to turn out to see the Lionesses, who are ranked third in the world.