Competition date 08 October 2019 Competition type A Women's International
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Lucy Bronze in action against Portugal

Lucy: 'I love being in this team'

Midfielder Lucy Staniforth says she's loving her time with the Lionesses

Lucy Staniforth

Lucy: 'I love being in this team'

Staniforth in action against Spain in April

By Tom Dean

Lucy Staniforth admits she is finally beginning to feel like part of the furniture at St George’s Park after becoming a staple of Phil Neville’s squads over the last year.

The 26-year-old was named among Neville’s latest group when Millie Bright and Demi Stokes withdrew through injury and was introduced from the bench as England lost 2-1 to Brazil at the Riverside on Saturday.

Staniforth, who plays her club football for Birmingham City, made a goalscoring debut in the Lionesses’ 6-0 World Cup qualifying win over Kazakhstan last September and has gone on to become a regular around SGP since then.

Her crowning moment in an England shirt perhaps came when she scored her second international goal and England’s first in a 3-0 win over Japan to clinch the SheBelieves Cup in March.

The midfielder was present in France this summer but was restricted to just 12 minutes of World Cup action, coming off the bench in the 3-0 last-16 win over Cameroon, and claims the experience of representing her country never gets old.

“It's been just over a year now that I have been involved in the England set-up so it’s nice to come back and see the familiar faces because I love being part of this squad,” she said.

“Ultimately these friendlies are a work-in-progress and we're now trying to tweak things to build on those performances at the World Cup ahead of the Euros and the Olympics.

“We want to be winning friendlies because we know that to be the best team in the world we have to - you can’t just turn it on in the big games, we need to be winners full time.

“So we’ve got to look at the areas we can improve in but we are better when the pressure is on in my opinion, so the games are always tough.”

Competition for places in Neville’s midfield is fierce at the moment after the return of Jill Scott and Jordan Nobbs but Staniforth believes that can only be a good thing – even if it means she sees less playing time.

Lucy Bronze, who finished third at last month’s FIFA’s 'The Best' awards, had been moved into midfield in the absence of Scott and Nobbs for the disappointing recent results against Norway and Belgium but returned to her more natural right-back position for the Brazil defeat.

The Lionesses now face a trip to Setubal where they will face Portugal, looking for their first win in five games – and another opportunity for Staniforth to stake her claim for a starting role in Neville’s team.

“I'm sure that Phil counts himself very lucky to have so many talented players to choose from because there is a lot of competition for places in this squad now,” she added.

“Jordan [Nobbs] is back in the squad now and that pushes the rest of the midfield to look at themselves and see where they can improve.

“Obviously I want to play every single game but at the same time I know that in different games we need different strengths.

“It's hard and it makes me look within myself and ask how much I’m willing to sacrifice to be the best in my position in the country.

“Successful squads over the years have always had a great mix of youth and experience and I am sure that we have that at the moment.

“Even our younger players now have a World Cup experience under their belts so hopefully we can use that move forwards and attack the next major tournaments.”

 

International Games

Mead on the mark

England got back to winning ways as Beth Mead scored a second-half winner in Setubal

Beth Mead celebrates

Lionesses back in business!

England Women got back to winning ways on Tuesday, thanks to Beth Mead’s second-half winner over Portugal.

Phil Neville’s side had endured a frustrating evening in Setubal, with the hosts looking to break up any rhythm from the Lionesses and turn it into a scrappy affair.

But England created the better of the chances throughout and were worthy winners, despite a calamitous error from the otherwise impressive Portuguese goalkeeper Patricia Morais leading to Mead’s winner.

England's Beth Mead scores against Portugal

After the setback of their defeat to Brazil at the weekend, the Lionesses made a bright start with Beth England forcing Morais into a first-minute save with a powerful header from distance.

The hosts certainly weren’t without their own openings though, with both Steph Houghton and Leah Williamson forced into tidying things up in the box as Portugal looked to force some early pressure.

Houghton then proved her worth in an attacking sense, breezing forward into the opposition half before picking out Mead on the left. She fizzed a low cross-shot into the area, but it was just ahead of England and flew past the far post.

Lucy Bronze in action against Portugal

With half time approaching, Lucy Bronze felt she should’ve been awarded a penalty after her run into the box onto a loose ball was brought to a halt by Monica Mendes. The referee was firm though and the appeals were turned down.

England came even closer in the dying seconds of the half, when England’s cross from the left looked destined for Nikita Parris at the far post. But Mendes produced a stunning clearance off the line to ensure the sides went in all square at the break.

The game followed a similar pattern in the second half, with Portugal disrupting England’s rhythm and looking to restrict chances to long range efforts and crosses from deep.

Still the Lionesses looked to probe though, and shortly after the hour mark a fine cross from Rachel Daly was almost converted by both England and Lucy Staniforth but neither could make a connection.

With Jordan Nobbs and Jodie Taylor introduced shortly after that, the two subs almost had an instant impact as Morais somehow managed to scramble clear at Taylor’s feet before Mendes made another timely block to deny Nobbs’ follow up effort.

England head coach Phil Neville

Unfortunately for Morais, she undid her earlier good work in the 72nd minute by letting Alex Greenwood’s left-wing cross slip through her hands, leaving Mead with the simplest of jobs to smash home on the line.

After their difficult recent run, it was the break England needed and they almost doubled the advantage in the later stages when another flowing move saw Parris nod into the side netting following a swinging cross from the right.

And Neville made it a night to remember for Lauren Hemp, introducing the Manchester City forward from the bench for her senior team debut.

It could so easily have ended all square too, as sub Claudia Neto’s stoppage time free-kick bounced down off the bar and onto the back of the otherwise untested Ellie Roebuck. The England keeper had had a quiet night, but she was quick to react and snatch the ball to ensure the victory.

For England, they will now turn their attention to next month’s clash with Germany at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 9 November.

England line up to play Portugal

England: 21 Ellie Roebuck, 2 Lucy Bronze, 3 Alex Greenwood, 4 Keira Walsh, 5 Steph Houghton, 6 Leah Williamson, 7 Nikita Parris, 8 Lucy Staniforth, 11 Beth Mead, 12 Rachel Daly, 18 Beth England

Substitutes: 10 Jordan Nobbs for Daly 65, 9 Jodie Taylor for England 65, 17 Melissa Lawley for Staniforth 80, 20 Lauren Hemp for Mead 86

Substitutes not used: 1 Carly Telford, 13 Mary Earps, 15 Aoife Mannion, 16 Gemma Bonner

Goals: Beth Mead 72

Head coach: Phil Neville