Phil Neville’s Lionesses trumped the US in last year’s SheBelieves Cup, just months prior to the summer World Cup encounter that ultimately left USA fans concerned.
And it’s the semi-final in France, which the US won, that will be at the forefront of England’s collective memory as they look to return to the top of the tree and claim another trophy.
Scroll down for our England team guide and read up on all the important details ahead of the action in March….
What you need to know
Coach: Phil Neville
Captain: Steph Houghton
Previous results: 2019 winners, defeating the USA
England players’ recent form
The Lionesses have stuttered ever since their World Cup semi-final exit at the hands of the Americans.
Indeed, a wretched run of form after the tournament has seen them lose five games in seven – including a last-minute winner they conceded against Germany in front of a 77,000 Wembley crowd. As much as Neville has tried to pave over the cracks, there is enough to prove the downward trend may well be more than a blip.
Fortunately, the domestic form of England’s best players in the WSL has picked up in recent months to suggest that not all is lost.
Leading the charge is manager Emma Hayes at Chelsea, who has a couple of stars under her wing at Kingsmeadow that have been relentless so far: Bethany England and Fran Kirby (yes, that wonder-strike).
The pair were especially impressive in the Blues 4-1 thumping of the – then – WSL league leaders, Arsenal.
Aside from Chelsea, the Gunners also appear to have an in-form string of Englishwomen, featuring the resurgent Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead.
Pair these attacking options with the likes of Ellen White and Nikita Parris and the Lionesses are sure to cause the US, Spain and Japan defensive havoc.
Yet if their own defensive set-up is similar to that of last summer’s World Cup, Neville may just need to rethink his options in the back four ahead of the tournament.
Players to watch
England’s hopes of clinching successive SheBelieve trophies will be bolstered by the fact that they have quite the contingent of in-form WSL players on hand to aid their chances.
England only won her first senior call-up last year, but there is a full expectation by fans and writers alike for her to feature across the tournament. From a stunning goal at Stamford Bridge in front of a record crowd to becoming one of the most feared strikers in the league alongside new signing Samantha Kerr, the 25-year-old is giving the gaffer all the evidence needed to ensure a place in the starting XI.
You only have to take a look at Mead’s performances this season under Joe Montemurro to understand why she’ll be a regular starter for the Lionesses across the tournament. Indeed, her relationship with Vivianne Miedema and Danielle Van de Donk has seen her in amongst the goals and assists consistently; making her a crucial addition to the England attack.
Manchester City introduced Roebuck to the WSL at the start of the season, perhaps as a makeshift keeper. Now? The 20-year-old – yes, 20 – is operating as the best goalkeeper in the league, and indeed England’s undisputed number one, with a save percentage of 90.9% in the first half of the season. Against the likes of Jennifer Hermoso and Megan Rapinoe, the Lionesses will need Roebuck in form if they are to claim SheBelieves glory.
Bronze claimed the inaugural UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award earlier this season and the Lyon defender is a crucial part of England’s game in regards to both attacking and defending. Her versatility across defence, whether that’s in a central position or down the left-wing, makes her sturdy competition for opposition attack. Yet, Bronze’s width-play is what fuels the Lionesses counterattacks.
Where will England finish at the SheBelieves Cup?
England may be in the USA’s backyard, but there is a lot riding in their favor in the way of retaining their SheBelieves credentials. For starters, their domestic form across the squad has been promising, from attack all the way through to defence.
The only issue that remains is whether Neville can build on the mistakes of the last six months or so and cultivate a counterattacking squad to take the game to the hosts and their other rivals.
England SheBelieves predicted starting XI
- Ellie Roebuck (GK)
- Beth Mead (M)
- Lucy Bronze (FB)
- Alex Greenwood (FB)
- Abbie McManus (CB)
- Leah Williamson (CB)
- Georgia Stanway (M)
- Jordan Nobbs (M)
- Fran Kirby (M)
- Beth England (S)
- Nikita Parris (S)