England Women boss Phil Neville is in no doubt that the Lionesses can win this summer’s World Cup and has emphasised the time is coming to “get out there and deliver”.
There has been plenty of talk in the build-up to the tournament in France of England as potential champions.
And Neville told Press Association Sport: “Sport is one of those where nothing is guaranteed.
“But what I would say is we’ve focused on the process, on our training, on getting certain principles of play and the preparation, and we’re probably going to be the best-prepared team that’s ever gone to a senior women’s World Cup, in terms of from an England point of view.
“We’re going to give it a real, real big shot.
“We’re one of five or six teams that can win the World Cup, I’m sure of it, and now we’re getting to that point where it’s really ‘stop talking and get out there and deliver’.”
England achieved their best performance at a Women’s World Cup four years ago when they finished third in Canada under Mark Sampson.
When asked what he felt England claiming the title would mean for women’s football in the country, Neville – appointed in January 2018 – said: “Sixteen months ago I was in a meeting.
“People were saying about ‘keep growing the women’s game, keep inspiring the next generation, let’s get down to grassroots level and let that young girl that lives in Devon or Newcastle or Birmingham watch a game of football and then be inspired by a group of players playing in a World Cup’.
“And I said the biggest thing would be to lift that World Cup – that would be the biggest thing to inspire the next generation.
“We do have the thought process that we have to inspire, we do have to make sure that the grassroots are getting better, there’s better opportunities for women footballers. That is part of our mantra.
To lift that World Cup – that would be the biggest thing to inspire the next generation. Phil Neville
“When I sat down with the girls, it wasn’t just that they wanted to win a World Cup, they wanted to provide a legacy, just like the 2015 team did.”
The Lionesses, semi-finalists at Euro 2017, beat France 4-1 in their first match under Neville, their opener at last year’s SheBelieves Cup.
They came second in that edition of the annual four-team tournament in the United States, and went on to secure World Cup qualification in August with a 3-0 away win over Wales.
Having registered seven victories, three draws and two losses across 2018 they then won this year’s SheBelieves Cup following a 2-1 victory against Brazil, a 2-2 draw with the USA and 3-0 win over Japan.
Neville has described taking England to a World Cup as “the proudest moment of my life”.
The 42-year-old former England, Manchester United and Everton player said with regard to his tenure: “I was stood on the touchline (at the France game) for the national anthem with my England blazer on, my England suit, and it was the proudest moment I’ve had in football, because I was the head coach of a senior England women’s team.
“That comes with great responsibility and great expectation, and what I have found is that I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I’ve enjoyed the environment I work in. I work with absolutely fantastic people at the FA, who have given me so much backing.
“But more importantly I work with a group of players that inspire me every single day. This group of players want to win, they want to improve, they want to learn, and they have so much respect for their coach.
“We have a special bond, you can’t hide away from that. When a group of players and a manager and a group of staff have the bond that we have, then that gives me great confidence and belief that we can be successful.”
England’s Group D matches see them face Scotland in Nice on June 9, Argentina in Le Havre five days later and then Japan back in Nice another five days after that.