Phil Neville believes a week of warm-weather training is the perfect way for his England team to begin what promises to be another huge year for the women’s game.
The Lionesses flew out to Doha on Tuesday for seven days of hard work in the Middle Eastern sun.
In the short term, this camp is being used as preparation for the SheBelieves Cup which starts next month, but Neville’s focus has been fixed on this summer’s World Cup in France ever since England qualified last August.
“This is the countdown [to] the World Cup,” he said. “I wanted to go somewhere special, [somewhere] that would start the process for the next six months.
“We’ve come to a country where the level of detail is unbelievable. The training facility is renowned for being one of the best in the world, alongside St. George’s Park.
“I think it just sets the tone for the next six months of the excellence and performance levels that we want.”
Neville continued: “I wanted a camp where I could actually train [the players], train them hard and get some of our principles of play into them, [but] in a relaxed manner, so we can have a little bit of downtime so we can come together as a group.
“[We wanted] to take away the pressure of a game and the amount of work that goes into that, and just focus on training, performance and the togetherness of the squad.
“What I’ve noticed since we’ve met up is that there’s a real focus among the players. They are so excited and their energy, their enthusiasm rubs off on me.”
England’s first match of 2019 is their SheBelieves opener against Brazil on Wednesday 27 February.
Then it’s host nation, and World Cup holders, USA on Saturday 2 March followed by Japan three days later.
Neville led his side to second place in last year’s edition, their best-ever finish in the annual four-team tournament.
England have been drawn in Group D at France 2019, alongside Scotland, Japan and Argentina, three opponents the Lionesses have experience of facing in major tournaments in recent years.
But Neville knows there is a lot of work to be done ahead of their World Cup opener, against the Scots on Sunday 9 June.
He said: “The next six months I want to be smooth [and] I want to enjoy them. I want to make sure we are the best prepared team heading into the World Cup.
“This will be the biggest World Cup of all-time for women’s football and we want to make sure that we enjoy it along the way.”