England Women boss Phil Neville has urged the Lionesses to continue playing with the freedom and expression they have shown during the triumphant SheBelieves Cup campaign.
England were crowned winners of the invitational round-robin tournament in the United States for the first time after beating Japan 3-0.
The victory followed last week’s 2-1 win over Brazil and Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the US, the reigning world champions.
The trophy lift before *the* trophy lift pic.twitter.com/nIGNwHIKi2— Lionesses (@Lionesses) March 6, 2019
England face Japan, Scotland and Argentina in Group D at this summer’s World Cup in France, which gets under way on June 7.
Neville told Sky Sports News: “We’re not going to start moonwalking backwards because people are starting to say we’ve got a good team and that we’re going to do well.
“We’ve actually got to puff our chests out and say ‘do you know what? This is where we want to be’.
“My players are at their best when they’re challenged, they’re at their best when they’re playing on the big occasion.
“So it’s full steam ahead. We’re enjoying it, the players are playing with a real freedom and an expression and that must continue.
“The nearer we get to the World Cup, the more it will be ramped up but we’re just going to make sure we know our destination.”
The goals against Japan all came in the first half of the contest in Florida, scored by Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead.
Striker Jodie Taylor, who set up Staniforth and Carney, said: “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It’s great to win this but we know it’s not the World Cup, we’ve got work to do.
“But we do have the confidence and we do have the belief that perhaps we didn’t have in the past.
“We will be working hard to try to bring that trophy home in the summer.”
Forward Toni Duggan said: “It’s a tournament against the best and we’ve come out on top so I’m absolutely delighted, but for me the real work starts tomorrow because we’ve got a World Cup to prepare for and this was just a tournament to prepare for that.
“That’s the main one, so we know we’ve got to go away and work a lot harder now.”
England now host Canada, Spain, Denmark and New Zealand in friendlies before heading to the World Cup.
One negative for them from the Japan game was Izzy Christiansen coming off injured towards the end of the first half.
The Lyon midfielder was reduced to tears while receiving treatment for possible knee and ankle problems suffered during a hefty collision with Japan defender Risa Shimizu.
Neville was quoted by the BBC as saying: “It looks bad. But she’s strong. We have lost Jordan Nobbs already in the build-up. Christiansen is vital to our squad. Hopefully she will be OK.”