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ENGLAND boss Phil Neville has expressed his excitement about the two years that lie ahead after naming his squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Belgium and Norway.
The Lionesses, who came fourth at the summer’s Women’s World Cup, play their first fixtures since the tournament in France when they face Belgium in Leuven a week tomorrow and then Norway in Bergen the following Tuesday.
Manchester City duo Ellen White and Karen Bardsley both miss out through injury while club teammate Jill Scott has been rested from the 24-player squad.
Chelsea forward Bethany England, scorer of 12 Women’s Super League goals last season, is among four new call-ups.
Defender Aoife Mannion who, like White, joined City over the summer after leaving Birmingham, is another elevated to the senior squad for the first time.
The other two new faces are goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, 21, and 20-year-old defender Anna Patten, who play for Clemson University and the University of South Carolina respectively.
England host the Euros in 2021, before which Neville is set to manage a Great Britain team at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
The 42-year-old, whose team lost 2-1 to the United States in the World Cup semi-finals, said: “It seems like yesterday we were playing in the World Cup I don’t think any of us have probably fully got over the emotions we have all been through.
“So this camp will be about resetting our mindset for what will be an unbelievable two years for the Lionesses.
“We have done an extensive debrief, an extensive look at where we need to improve and the results are that we are really close, and it’s now making the small minor adjustments that I believe will take us to that next level.
“The next two years are really exciting and from the minute I landed back in Birmingham when we got back [from the World Cup] my thoughts went to how do we win the next Euros, how do we get through a semi-final, how do we get these players up to the level that will get us that gold medal we all want?”
He added: “I’ve got two years to build a team that will win the Euros in 2021, that’s the aim. There is going to be no excuses. I know what we have to do, and it starts on Sunday night when they meet up.”
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