England head to the Women’s World Cup this summer harbouring genuine hopes that they can lift the trophy for the first time.
The Lionesses have qualified for the World Cup on four previous occasions, with their third-placed finish in 2015 their best ever performance at the finals.
However, their improvement under manager Phil Neville has been clear to see and their recent success at the recent SheBelieves Cup has ramped up expectations.
England defeated Brazil and drew with the United States before demolishing Japan in their final game to claim top spot in the four-team round-robin competition.
The Lionesses beat Spain 2-1 in the second of four warm-up games for this summer’s tournament in France, bouncing back from an unlucky defeat against Canada.
England face further fixtures against Denmark and New Zealand ahead of the World Cup and Neville has admitted he has some tough decisions to make regarding his squad.
“It is going to be difficult, you know it and I know it – it is coming,” he told the BBC. “We have spoken to the players about it, how we are going to do it, what is going to happen.
“Now is the time for me to probably be ruthless and put the best players on that plane. I thank them for what they have done for the past 14 months and the efforts.
“They have four weeks to stay fit, keep in form and keep charging forward – because the train doesn’t stop now.”
Neville’s side were impressive during qualifying for the World Cup, averaging over three goals per game to finish five points ahead of Wales.
They have been drawn in Group D alongside Japan, Scotland and Argentina for this summer’s tournament and should make it through to the knockout stage.
Tougher tests await further down the line, with hosts France, the US and Germany all expected to make their mark this summer.
France have found their form after being narrowly beaten by Germany back in February, smashing 13 goals in three friendly games against Uruguay, Japan and Denmark.
The US lost 2-1 against France during January, but they are unbeaten in six outings since then and can be expected to put up a strong defence of the title they won in 2015.
Germany have racked up an 11-game unbeaten streak, although they were disappointing in a recent 2-2 draw with Japan.
England will probably need to beat two of that trio to win the World Cup, but it is a feat that certainly should not be beyond them if the team plays to its potential.
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