Phil Neville says changes since Covid-19 have helped elite women’s football in England

Phil Neville
Phil Neville leaves his role as England women’s manager in July 2021

Phil Neville says England’s elite women players should benefit from and “embrace” changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

And the England women’s boss says improvements following football’s suspension in March are noticeable.

“The world has changed and women’s football has changed,” Neville said.

“I want us to embrace it and take the leap forward. If you look at the first three or four games of the season, look at the investment and the coverage of women’s football.

“The players that are now coming to this country and the level of performances I have seen in the first few games of the season are far greater than what I saw before the pandemic.

“They are far more intense, physically, technically and tactically better, and there is more competition.”

No distractions by GB Olympic talk

Neville’s Lionesses travel to face two-time world champions Germany on 27 October, in a game that will be broadcast live on BBC Two (15:00 GMT).

But even though Neville is due to leave his current role in July 2021, he says he will not be distracted by talk of him possibly leading Team GB at the Olympics next summer.

“The planning and scheduling is set in stone for the Olympics,” he added.

“The cancellation this year just put on hold the plan we had. Whether it is me or somebody else there is not much movement on that. My only focus has been on England.”

‘They will want to play in both’

Lucy Bronze is one of 11 Manchester City players in the 28-player England squad for their fixture in Wiesbaden, with Everton represented by Sandy MacIver and Izzy Christiansen.

And Neville says he has not considered making any special provisions to his selections despite those two clubs meeting in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on 1 November.

“If we had had a double header it would have been part of my thinking about the amount of players that had to play in three big games in a short space of time,” Neville said.

“I think if you asked those players like Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and those Manchester City players, they would want to play in both.

“I think we have got to the stage where physically and mentally they can play in both. They will have four or five days building to a Cup final on Sunday.”

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