Neville relieved to get back out on training pitch with players

England Women manager Phil Neville (second left) during a training session at St George's Park on Tuesday. Picture: Nigel French/PA
England Women manager Phil Neville (second left) during a training session at St George's Park on Tuesday. Picture: Nigel French/PA
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Phil Neville said it “felt like Christmas Day” when his England Women players were reunited ahead of Friday’s big World Cup qualifier against Wales.

Appointed in January, manager Neville led the Lionesses in last month’s SheBelieves Cup, but after over three weeks apart from his squad since then, the former Manchester United star was missing the core part of his job.

The gaps between fixtures are a common frustration for international bosses – an inevitability that Neville nevertheless found tricky to cope with during the time apart.

“The worst thing about international management is the time between games where you get itchy feet,” said Neville.

“You go and watch them but you can’t really speak to them, you can’t coach them, and we’re obviously in contact but you can’t get out on the grass. So on Sunday when I woke up it felt like Christmas Day, it really did.”

The players assembled at St George’s Park on Sunday evening and after reacquainting themselves with the manager in the early stage of the get-together, they went through an full training session yesterday.

The worst thing about international management is the time between games where you get itchy feet.

England Women head coach, Phil Neville

Neville led England in a victory over France, a draw with Germany and a defeat to hosts the United States during the SheBelieves Cup.

His team climbed to second place in the FIFA rankings on the back of that performance, and wins over Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina over the next week would go a long way to inking England in for a place at next year’s World Cup in France.

Striker Fran Kirby missed training due to injury, with the Chelsea player a “massive doubt” for the Wales game.

Kirby is the leading scorer in the English club game this season but England have plenty of alternatives, with Ellen White and Euro 2017 Golden Boot winner Jodie Taylor available.