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Japan Women vs England Women. SheBelieves Cup.

Red Bull Arena (USA).

Japan Women 0

    England Women 1

      SheBelieves Cup: Lionesses aiming to bounce back from USA defeat

      Follow Japan Women vs England Women on Sky Sports' digital platforms from 5.15pm on Sunday; Kick-off 6.15pm

      Sunday 8 March 2020 18:00, UK

      Ellen White scored twice against Japan at the World Cup in 2019, can she do so again on Sunday
      Image: Ellen White scored twice against Japan at the World Cup in 2019, can she do so again on Sunday?

      England Women will be aiming for their first win of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup when they take on Japan in New Jersey.

      The Lionesses were beaten 2-0 by the USA in their opening game on Thursday, while Japan also lost their first fixture against Spain 3-1.

      The pair currently occupy the bottom two places in the SheBelieves table, and England will be hoping for victory to keep their hopes of retaining the title alive.

      Fixture history

      england women
      Image: England won both games against Japan in 2019 without conceding

      For the second successive game, England will face a team who have beaten them in a World Cup semi-final. Japan were 2-1 winners at the 2015 tournament in Canada, going on to lose in the final to the USA while England beat Germany to clinch third place.

      The pair faced each other twice in 2019, with England winning both games without conceding. The first was at the SheBelieves Cup, which the Lionesses won 3-0 in Florida, before a 2-0 victory in the final World Cup group game in France. Ellen White scored both goals.

      England striker Ellen White rewinds it back to where her football career began – first pair of boots, her England debut and most importantly that first goal

      Team news

      Bethany England celebrates after scoring her Chelsea's second goal
      Image: Bethany England celebrates after scoring for Chelsea

      England manager Phil Neville will hand a start to Chelsea striker Bethany England against Japan.

      The joint-top scorer in the Women's Super League came on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat by the USA on Thursday, but she will get her chance from the start at the Red Bull Arena.

      More on this story

      "The plan was always for Bethany to start against Japan," said Neville. "It would have been an unbelievable ask for her to start against the USA and to come off the back of a Continental Cup final.

      "She is still in that period of getting used to the surroundings. We have got to think about the long-term for Beth. We know her qualities and the improvements in her. I just want her to do what she does for Chelsea [on Sunday]. I don't want anything else, other than that."

      Neville also revealed there will be "four or five youngsters starting" against Japan with Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kell and Grace Fisk among those hoping to be handed a starting berth.

      Neville: We need to build confidence

      Nikita Parris had a number of chances for England Women
      Image: Nikita Parris had a number of chances for England Women against the USA

      It's been a difficult period for England since their World Cup semi-final defeat to USA last summer.

      The Lionesses have suffered six defeats in their last nine fixtures but Neville is targeting victories, starting against Japan, who they have beaten them twice in the past 12 months, including at the World Cup in the summer, as he attempts to build the confidence and belief of his players

      "When you are building something, wins give the players belief in what you are doing and this set of players sometimes lack belief and confidence," he said.

      "We have to go with this, we can't just go half measures and [Sunday's] team will reflect that."

      Japan's one to watch

      Mana Iwabuchi, SheBelieves Cup
      Image: Mana Iwabuchi has already scored in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup

      Despite being 25 years old, Mana Iwabuchi is already a seasoned international. She has featured at three World Cups, winning the tournament in 2011 and finishing as runner up in 2015, and is one of Japan's most influential players.

      Used primarily as a striker, Iwabuchi helped Japan to win the Asian Cup in April 2018 - in which she was named as MVP - before winning gold with Japan at the 2018 Asian Games a few months later, adding to her Olympic silver medal from London 2012.

      She has previously played in Europe, spending five years with Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in Germany, before returning home where she plays her club football for INAC Kobe Leonessa. She did not feature at last year's SheBelieves Cup, but has already added to her 27 international goals with the reply in Thursday's 3-1 loss to Spain.

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