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Phil Neville backs Nikita Parris to become a "world star"

Phil Neville backs Nikita Parris to become a
© Reuters
The forward opened the scoring as the Lionesses edged out Denmark on Saturday.

England Women boss Phil Neville believes Nikita Parris could "become a world star" this summer as the forward's goal helped the Lionesses beat Denmark 2-0 in their World Cup warm-up game at Walsall's Banks's Stadium.

Parris – a few days after completing a move to Champions League winners Lyon – struck the opener just before the break in the penultimate match for England ahead of the World Cup in France.

Her former Manchester City team-mate Jill Scott, the captain for the afternoon, added a header in the 59th minute.

Neville, whose side performed unconvincingly at times, said of Parris: "The kid has had such a big 10 days in her life.

"You think about the girl from Toxteth who is now going to be living in France, has changed clubs, the first time she's moved away from home, big emotional strain on that, on anyone. I know it myself from moving abroad.

"So we wanted to protect her today. But she's a goal threat, she has goals in her.

"I need to make sure that we conserve that energy that she's got. She's buzzing around, she wants to train 27 hours a day, and we just need to make sure we manage her well because the World Cup is the biggest thing in her life, she's dreamt about it all her life and she wants to go there and make a real impact.

"She's that type of player who could go there and become a world star. So we just need to protect those jewels that we've got."

England survived some early pressure from Denmark and the visitors then had the ball in the net shortly before Parris' goal, but Signe Bruun's effort was ruled out for handball.

In the second half Danish captain Pernille Harder was denied by Karen Bardsley and sent a free-kick narrowly wide either side of Scott's header.

Neville, whose players took part in a team-building exercise with the Royal Marines this week, said: "We half expected that kind of performance.

"A little bit leggy, coming off the back of the end of the season, we have trained them hard and we had the team bonding day where they probably only got one or two hours sleep.

"We expected a little bit of fatigue, and I have to say the pitch was really, really energy-sapping.

"But the disappointment in the first half is we didn't play with any kind of rhythm. It just looked messy, there was no composure.

England Women v Denmark Women – International Friendly – Banks's Stadium
England Women manager Phil Neville admitted his players were tired (Barry Coombs/PA)

"It was really important we had that type of game today with that type of pressure. There is going to be even bigger pressure on us so I think a few of those players needed that kind of jolt.

"They stuck in the game and got stronger as it went on, so I was pleased in the end.

"I think it's just an accumulation of a few things – the pitch, the camping (with the Marines), and the fact they probably got to this stage and (thought) 'we're nearly at the World Cup here'."

He added: "The April games (friendlies against Canada and Spain) were a pain in the backside and I suppose these games are a bit of a nuisance. You just want to get through unscathed, and with rhythm.

England Women v Denmark Women – International Friendly – Banks's Stadium
England's Jill Scott (right) and Denmark's Pernille Harder battle for the ball (Barry Coombs/PA)

"I've chosen them. I wanted a tough game today because I knew the players would need a bit of a jolt and spike. But through the game, even though I wanted to win, I was like (puffs out cheeks), '90 minutes, come on', because you just want your players almost to use it as a training exercise."

England's World Cup preparations continue with a final warm-up game against New Zealand at Brighton's Amex Stadium next Saturday, before their campaign gets underway on June 9 with a Group D clash against Scotland in Nice.


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England women's manager Phil Neville reacts after his side's defeat to Canada on April 5, 2019
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Neville hoping 'sensational' team building with Marines will aid World Cup bid
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