Beth Mead blow as Phil Neville reveals England women’s squad

Injury has denied Beth Mead the chance to be part of Phil Neville’s “transformational” England squad for next month’s She Believes Cup.

Arsenal's Beth Mead.

The Lionesses have disappointed since the high of last year’s run to the World Cup semi-finals, and manager Neville has shaken up the squad by adding six players who reached the same stage of the Under-20 tournament in 2018.

Whitby-born Mead suffered a badly-bruised leg in mid-December and although she returned to the Arsenal side a month later, scoring at Brighton and Hove Albion in her second game back, she was forced off in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Liverpool with a knee injury which has kept her out of the trip to the United States of America.

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“It is a blow with Beth,” said manager Neville. “I think Beth has been in the best form of her career this season.
I knew as soon as she went down, the clash of knees, something wasn’t right.”

Mead’s absence, and that of Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps, only adds to the fresh feel of a 23-strong squad featuring uncapped players Grace Fisk and Sandy MacIver.

Former men’s international Neville is rebuilding his squad with one eye on next year’s European Championship, which will be played in England with Rotherham United and Sheffield United amongst the venues.

“This is a transformational moment for the England women’s team,” he declared.

“With eight of our squad under the age of 23 – and six of them having competed in the World Under-20 World Cup – we are focusing on developing the incredible young talent we have in the women’s game with a keen eye on Euro 2021 in 16 months’ time.

“All of the young players who have been given their opportunity have earned their places on merit, based on exceptional form and performances at club level as well as for England’s development teams, and I’m delighted to be giving them all the opportunity they rightly deserve.

“Of course, we’ll continue to rely enormously on the world-class senior players who’ve been the mainstay of the England Women’s squad for many years.

“They know what it takes to succeed on the world stage and they can teach our younger players so much about the physical and mental standards required to compete at the very top level.

“It’s also important that we continue our policy of integrating other talented youngsters on camp wherever possible so they can benefit from the experience of training with the Lionesses, and to that end we look forward to welcoming Hannah Hampton and Alessia Russo to the group.

“Despite a largely successful 2019 World Cup campaign, we knew we needed to make significant changes to our approach if we’re to be ready to win Euro 2021 on home soil next year. This squad is the realisation of months of hard work and refocusing, which we have done as a team behind the scenes in recent months.”

Harrogate’s Rachel Denly and York-born Lucy Staniforth make the cut, along with former Doncaster Belles defender Millie Bright and former Leeds Met player Lucy Bronze.

England begin their defence of the She Believes Cup with a game against hosts and world champions USA in Orlando on Thursday, March 5. Japan and Spain also feature.

England squad: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), 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).