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Neville: We like the pressure of favourites tag

England Women face Scotland Women on Sunday.

Phil Neville and Steph Houghton faced the media in Nice (John Walton/PA)
Phil Neville and Steph Houghton faced the media in Nice (John Walton/PA)

England coach Phil Neville says he is relishing the role of favourites ahead of his side’s opening Women’s World Cup match against Scotland in Nice on Sunday.

Neville has made it clear his side are aiming to win the tournament in France for the first time but he is also under no illusions about the challenge posed by their nearest rivals.

Neville said: “I think we’ve been handling those expectations for the last 12 months or probably since I came into the job.

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Phil Neville’s England face Scotland on Sunday (John Walton/PA)

“We know and like the pressure being on us. We’re not going to hide away from the fact that we want to come into this competition and do well.

“We know tomorrow we are the favourites for the game because of our world ranking, but we also know and have a lot of respect for the opposition.”

Neville said he hoped Barcelona striker Toni Duggan and Manchester City defender Demi Stokes will be fit for the game despite struggling with minor knocks in the build-up.

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Steph Houghton has warned her side of the threat posed by resurgent Scotland (John Walton/PA)

Neville said: “They are two experienced players that are desperate to be involved in the first game of the World Cup.

“You think about the four years you’ve dreamed about this moment and they’re not going to give up the opportunity to play in a World Cup, so I’m confident they will both be able to play.”

England captain Steph Houghton warned her team would face a different threat to the one posed by the Scots two years ago, when England won their European Championship clash 6-0 in Utretcht.

Houghton said: “I think looking at the Euro 2017 game they were hit with a lot of injuries to key players and they’ve got those players back now.

“They’ve grown a lot over the last two years. They’ve qualified for their first World Cup and they’ve beaten Brazil, and they’re definitely a lot stronger with those players in the squad.”

PA

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