Phil Neville: I'll pick my strongest England Women side against Japan

Follow live updates from Japan vs England on and the Sky Sports App on Wednesday at 8pm

England Women's boss Phil Neville will resist the temptation to rest players against Japan

England coach Phil Neville says he will pick the strongest side possible against Japan despite the Lionesses having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Women's World Cup.

Wins over Scotland and Argentina sees Neville's side sitting at the top of Group D with a 100 per cent record as they secured a place in the second round with a game to spare.

However, Neville will resist the temptation to rest players against second-placed Japan, who beat England 2-1 in the semi-finals four years ago, and will be looking to top the group.

"We've got to pick our best side. We've got to pick our best side because we want to finish top of the group", Neville said ahead of tomorrow night's game at the Allianz Riviera.

Group D table

Team Played GD Points
1. England 2 2 6
2. Japan 2 1 4
3. Argentina 2 -1 1
4. Scotland 2 -2 0

"And we want to continue and build the momentum that we've built in the first two games. So I'll be picking my best side to win the game.

Neville believes England will have to be on top of their game to break down a disciplined Japan team.

He added: "I think their system is one of the biggest strengths of their team. The way that they all know how to play in their system and are really well disciplined with fantastic movement down the right and down the left.

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"And they've got two really good centre-forwards who are really mobile so we are going to have to be at our best to get any kind of result."

Jodie Taylor celebrates scoring for England Women against Argentina with teammates Beth Mead and Lucy Bronze.
Image: Jodie Taylor celebrates scoring for England Women against Argentina

"Strong statement needed"

Neville is keen for England to send out a "strong statement" to their rivals with a victory on Wednesday.

"I want us to have played three, won three, and affect the mindset of other people in the tournament, but more importantly give my players more confidence.

"The belief in the dressing room after the Argentina game - even though we only won 1-0 - was a really great feeling because it was another win, and that's why we need to win tomorrow night.

Phil Neville consoles Fran Kirby at full-time
Image: Neville wants England to make a statement against Japan

"Forget the group permutations - I think playing three, winning three in a group everyone said was the 'group of death' would send a strong statement.

"We're watching USA play, we're watching Germany, France. They're winning their groups and we need to keep up with them."

'Winning group a priority'

Speaking on the Women's World Cup Podcast, England Women's legend Kelly Smith says winning the group must be the priority on Wednesday

"Winning the group is certainly the mentality they should have. The aim was always to get out of the group, they've done that now, and they had a brilliant performance against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. That will give them massive confidence, knowing they are more than capable of beating them.

"But Japan looked better in their second game against Scotland, they moved the ball quicker and they were on the front foot a little bit more. There was a little bit more urgency from them in the final third that we didn't see in the first game.

"I think it's going to be a cracking tie, Japan are very good at keeping the ball, moving it about and playing in triangles so England will have to be patient again, but with our physicality and speed of play… I'd love to see them top the group, it sends out a statement that England are here and ready to play."

Scotland vs Argentina permutations

The second Group D finale between Argentina and Scotland - also at 8pm on Wednesday - has big implications.

Argentina would advance with a victory at Parc des Princes, while Scotland could advance with a win and big help in goal difference.

A draw would mean Argentina would have to rely on being the best third-placed side, with Chile - below them in those rankings - facing minnows Thailand and Cameroon playing New Zealand in their final games.

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