Women's Senior
Women's Senior

Defender Abbie McManus eyes regular spot in England squad

Tuesday 05 Jun 2018
Abbie McManus made her England debut against France in March

If England reach the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, Abbie McManus is hoping there’s one squad member her dad won’t have trouble naming; that of his own daughter.

The last time the Lionesses were on the world stage, when they won bronze in 2015, Manchester City defender McManus watched all the matches with her father, Lee.

At that stage McManus had not represented her country at any level – she was a year away from her Under-23s debut – so her dad only knew the names of her City club mates.

Russia v England
  • 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
  • Group 1 qualifier
  • 5pm BST, Friday 8 June
  • Live on BBC Red Button and BBC Online
“Because I’d never been in the England squad before,” she explained, “and because he’d only ever watched me at City, my dad didn’t know who all of the England girls were so he kept asking me who everyone was!

“We watched all the games back home on TV and he kept saying ‘Who’s that?’ and ‘who’s that?’, so I was giving him all the names and their clubs, too.

“But now I’ve been in the squad a few times I think he knows who everyone is!”

McManus made her senior team bow against France at the SheBelieves Cup in March this year, coming on as a first-half substitute for the injured Anita Asante.

The 25-year-old was a late addition to that particular squad, replacing skipper Steph Houghton.

“I was kind of thrown in at the deep end but I think that actually helped; I probably settled in more than I expected,” McManus reflected.

“I felt less nervous and less anxious because I didn’t really have time to think about it.

“All the thoughts I might have had beforehand about playing against France in front of a big crowd were taken away from me so I could just get on with the game.

“You get people’s respect off the pitch and in training but when you’re in a game situation you get to know other players a bit more because you’re all fighting for the same thing; you’re all fighting for the Three Lions so the respect comes that way, too.”

McManus has gone on to earn four more caps, helping to keep two clean sheets in the process, and is in Phil Neville’s 20-player squad for the World Cup qualifier in Russia on Friday.

England are top of Group 1, two points clear of Wales with three matches remaining.

The Lionesses are chasing a fourth consecutive appearance at a World Cup finals and an eighth major tournament berth in a row.

And McManus is hoping World Cup fever can soon set in among her new England team-mates.

McManus (left) congratulates Toni Duggan on her goal against Bosnia last time out

“Obviously our aim is to qualify for the World Cup so we have to beat Russia to keep us in there with a good chance of doing that,” she said.

“And with the men’s World Cup coming up we’ll all be watching the England games because we’re all one team and we’re all England fans.

“I hope the boys go to Russia and do us proud.

“We haven’t qualified yet so we can’t think too far ahead but we’d love to be preparing for our own World Cup this time next year so we know we have to try and win every match we play.”

McManus, whose brother Scott scored the winner for FC Halifax Town in the 2016 FA Trophy Final at Wembley, and her national team boss grew up just a few miles apart; McManus in Prestwich, Neville in Bury.

And she is loving life under the former Manchester United and England defender.

“I didn’t seem to be ticking the boxes when Mark Sampson and Mo Marley were in charge but that seems to have changed since Phil has been involved,” said McManus.

“I’m really enjoying things under Phil because he’s very tactical and that’s what we like at City, too.

“I’m delighted to be picked for the seniors and I hope I can continue to be picked. I want to improve under Phil and learn from him.”

By Glenn Lavery