England: Lionesses can prove doubters wrong with SheBelieves Cup defence

Yahoo Sport UK
England's Beth England celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith
England's Beth England celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Chelsea striker Beth England believes the Lionesses are much better than their results since last year’s World Cup have shown as they bid to retain their SheBelieves Cup crown.

Phil Neville’s side went unbeaten in last year’s SheBelieves Cup, with victories over Brazil and Japan bookending a 2-2 draw with the USA to secure their first title at the fourth time of asking. 

But they head to Orlando for their opening match against the USA having won just two of their last eight matches since losing to the eventual world champions in the semi-finals.

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And after making her international debut in August 2019, England is chomping at the bit to get her first taste of tournament action for the national team as they look to defend their title. 

“I’m really excited, it’s my first proper tournament for the national team and I’d be buzzing if we could bring the trophy back,” the 25-year-old Blues striker said.

“I think the performances at the back end of last season weren’t a credit to how well I know this England team can play. 

“So fingers crossed we go out there as a team and absolutely smash it and bring that trophy back home again.” 

After a poor end to 2019, the Lionesses will head across the Atlantic with a point to prove – and in England they have no one better to lead the line, having done exactly that herself.

After moving to southwest London in 2016, the former Doncaster Rovers Belle struggled in front of goal before heading out to Liverpool on loan, where she finally found her feet in the WSL.

Since returning to play in blue she hasn’t looked back, scoring 22 goals in all competitions last season and bagging a brace in Saturday’s FA Women’s Continental League Cup final victory to take her past the 20-goal barrier again this season.

Not content with terrorising WSL defences, she also seized her chance on the international stage after being overlooked for the World Cup, netting twice in her five appearances.

Scoring on the highest stage is something that might have looked impossible as little as two years ago, but despite periods of self-doubt England never gave up, and Chelsea boss Emma Hayes thinks this is just the start of what will be a glittering career for the striker.

“I love the story, because she had to earn it, there was no way I was going to give it to her easily,” Hayes said.

“There’s nothing more joyful than when a player who you don’t know if they are going to be able to cut it at the top level gets their head down and puts everything into their career. 

“The talent was always there but now you’re starting to see the fruit of hard work and perseverance, and I really think England have got a player that can add something to them going to the next stage. 

“She’s a credit to herself and her family.” 

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