Stoney highlights significance of Lionesses' French exam

Monday 07 Mar 2016
Casey Stoney says the England squad is in the best shape it's ever been

Casey Stoney has labelled Wednesday’s encounter against France as England’s most important match of the SheBelieves Cup.

The Lionesses have lost both games in this inaugural friendly tournament, to World Cup winners, and hosts, USA on Friday and to Germany on Sunday.

England haven’t beaten Les Bleus since 1974 – and Stoney knows how big it would be to get a result against Philippe Bergeroo’s side.

England v France

The SheBelieves Cup
10pm GMT, Wednesday 9 March
Florida Atlantic University Stadium
Live on BBC

The 33-year-old said: “For me, this is the biggest game of the tournament in terms of a psychological edge.

“We have beaten USA in the past, we know we can do that. We beat Germany at the World Cup so we know we can do that.

“We haven’t beaten France for over 40 years. We went over there under Hope Powell [in 2012], went 2-0 up and threw it away.

“If we can beat them it will give us a massive boost thinking ahead to the Euros next year.

“I look at this team and I think it’s the best it’s ever been”

Stoney on evolving Lionesses 

“We’ve been so close in the last two games. If we can get a result against France it will be massive for this squad moving forward.”

Stoney came off the bench against Germany but couldn’t help her side achieve a first win over the European champions inside 90 minutes.

England went 1-0 up through Toni Duggan’s ninth-minute header but a Gilly Flaherty own goal and a debatable Babett Peter penalty denied Mark Sampson’s charges a notable victory.

However, Stoney, a former England captain who has earned 125 caps since making her debut in 2000, can feel the momentum shifting.

She added: “I look at this team and I think it’s the best it’s ever been.

“We are growing game by game. I’m just really glad to be part of it.

“If you ignore the last two results for a second, I can really feel something changing.

“To play like we did against America in their back garden and for it to take a wonder goal to beat us says it all really.

“The tide is turning. I look at our squad and Mark can play any one of 23. That’s a massively strong position to be in.

“We’re moving in the right direction and things are looking really positive in terms of qualification for the Euros.”

England’s next home match will be their UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier against Belgium on Friday 8 April (7.55pm KO).

Tickets for the game, which will take place at Rotherham United’s AESSEAL New York Stadium, are on sale now priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is available at £10 and group booking discounts apply.

Tickets can be bought via, by calling 08444 140 754 or in person at the Rotherham United ticket office.

By Glenn Lavery in Boca Raton, Florida