England manager Phil Neville has announced his highly-anticipated squad of 23 that will cross the channel for this summer’s World Cup.
It was by royal decree that Steph Houghton found out that she will, as expected, captain the side throughout the tournament.
The squad Neville has selected boasts a blend of experience, youth and fearlessness which will all be vital to any potential success. The manager and his players haven’t been subtle about their intentions to bring the trophy home.
It will be the fourth trip to a World Cup for midfielders Jill Scott and Karen Carney, a feat only matched by England legend Bobby Charlton, while the likes of Houghton, Ellen White and Toni Duggan will also travel with plenty of major tournament experience under their belts.
The timely recovery of Jade Moore and the form of young players such as Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway means these is no place for Lyon’s Izzy Christiansen, who has been working her way back from injury. England’s all-time most-capped player Fara Williams also misses out.
Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford provide the wisdom between the sticks with a healthy stock of defensive talent that includes Lyon’s Lucy Bronze, City’s Demi Stokes and Chelsea’s Mille Bright.
Defenders Abbie McManus and Leah Williamson have earned their places in the squad after good domestic seasons and SheBelieves Cup honours.
England won the exhibition tournament after a 3-0 win over Japan, a 2-1 win over Brazil and a 2-2 draw with world champions USA. The Lionesses will need to navigate their way to the World Cup knockout stages before they can start to worry about the world’s top teams.
England are in Group D for the tournament where they will face Argentina, Japan, and long-time rivals Scotland.
This is Scotland’s first appearance in the World Cup, so they will be more determined than ever to take on the group. On paper, the Lionesses are stronger, but if England allow emotion to get in the way then there could be problems.
Japan finished runners-up in Canada after the USWNT beat them in a thrilling 5-2 final.
If there is a Japan player to watch out for, it’s Lyon defender and Japan captain, Saki Kumagai.
In 2011, she led the team to an emotional World Cup win, scoring the winner in the penalty shootout – a powerful and calm strike into the top left corner.
Argentina are finally heading to the World Cup this summer after a 5-1 win over Panama in the intercontinental play-off.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) only announced this year that the women’s league will be granted professional status.
While the game of football in Argentina is heavily focused on Messi, women’s football seems to be making a breakthrough.
There’s probably no other team more determined to prove their country wrong and play their absolute best at the world cup.
If the Lionesses make it past the group stages, they could face USA, Brazil or Germany, all experienced and successful sides.
But they’re ready for the challenge, especially with a team made up of the likes of Lucy Bronze, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead, the Lionesses have got this.
Before the tournament, the ‘Road to France’ series of warm-up games continue. England v Denmark is on 25 May (1pm, BBC One) and England v New Zealand takes place on 1 June (1pm, BBC One).
Carly Telford (Chelsea) Age: 31, Caps: 17
Karen Bardsley (Manchester City) Age: 34, Caps: 76
Mary Earps (Tottenham) Age: 26, Caps: 5
Steph Houghton (Manchester City) Age: 31, Caps: 104
Lucy Bronze (Olympique Lyonnais) Age: 27, Caps: 67
Demi Stokes (Manchester City) Age: 27, Caps: 50
Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) Age: 27, Caps: 21
Alex Greenwood (Manchester United) Age: 25, Caps: 36
Millie Bright (Chelsea) Age: 25, Caps: 26
Abbie McManus (Manchester City) Age: 26, Caps: 12
Leah Williamson (Arsenal) Age: 22, Caps: 6
Jade Moore (Reading) Age: 28, Caps: 45
Keira Walsh (Manchester City) Age: 22, Caps: 14
Jill Scott (Manchester City) Age: 32, Caps: 134
Karen Carney (Chelsea) Age: 31, Caps: 138
Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City) Age: 26, Caps: 8
Georgia Stanway (Manchester City) Age: 20, Caps: 6
Nikita Parris (Manchester City) Age: 25, Caps: 32
Fran Kirby (Chelsea) Age: 25, Caps: 37
Toni Duggan (Barcelona) Age: 27, Caps: 71
Ellen White (Birmingham City) Age: 29, Caps: 80
Beth Mead (Arsenal) Age: 23, Caps: 12
Jodie Taylor (Reign FC) Age: 32, Caps: 42