It’s fair to say that England’s women have not yet hit the heights that many expected at the Women’s World Cup, as they head into Wednesday’s clash with Japan.
The Lionesses have won their opening two matches – against Scotland and Argentina – and have already sealed their place in the last 16 of the tournament.
But boss Phil Neville admits they need to improve and a few changes could be made for the final Group D match, which is against Japan in Nice.
The fact that England, who are 8/1 to lift the World Cup, are already into the knockout stages could see Neville shuffle his pack and they may work in their favour, with several players looking to stake their claim for a place in the last-16 starting XI.
Toni Duggan missed the first two matches due to a thigh injury, but the Barcelona star has returned to training this week and is expected to feature.
The 27-year-old has 72 will be looking to grab a 23rd international goal in Wednesday’s clash.
Despite having already qualified, Neville insists that his team “want to beat Japan” and that his players are “having the time of their lives” at the World Cup.
England will seeking revenge against a Japan team that knocked them out at the semi-final stage four years ago. That is the only time they have lost to Japan though in five previous meetings.
Their last encounter came at this year’s She Believes Cup, when England ran out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from goals from Lucy Staniforth, Karen Carney and Beth Mead.
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