Man Utd Women manager Casey Stoney ideal to replace Phil Neville for England, says Sue Smith

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes told Sky Sports' The Football Show: "It’s an honour to be linked with the national team job... but right now, I’m extremely happy at Chelsea"

Casey Stoney has led Manchester United to fourth in their first season in the Women's Super League 1:00
Former England international Sue Smith thinks Manchester United Women's manager Casey Stoney would be the ideal candidate to replace Phil Neville as national team head coach

Manchester United Women manager Casey Stoney would have difficulty turning down the England job and "would be fantastic" to replace Phil Neville, according to her former team-mate Sue Smith.

Neville is likely to announce he is stepping down from his role as England Women head coach on Thursday, once the dates for the delayed Women's European Championships are decided.

Neville is expected to stay on as head coach until the end of his contract, which is due to expire in the summer of 2021, unless a natural appointment of a successor is ready beforehand.

Phil Neville
Image: Neville is expected to step down from his role as England Women's head coach

Manchester United, newly promoted from the Championship under Stoney, have impressed in their first ever season in the top flight and sit fourth in the table, behind the big three of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Speaking about possible successors to Neville, Smith told Sky Sports News: "There's lots of names going around at the moment. Emma Hayes always gets called upon because she has done a fantastic job at Chelsea.

"I think Casey Stoney would be fantastic. I'm sure Manchester United fans wouldn't like me for saying that because she has done such a good job in the WSL for them.

"If you're looking for something similar to how the England men are doing it with the likes of Gareth Southgate where he has really developed himself and the team. Casey Stoney could do that as well."

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Manchester United Women manager Casey Stoney speaks to Lottie Okvist and Millie Turner earlier in the season
Image: Stoney is in her first managerial role, having briefly worked under Neville at England

Stoney played 130 times for England, including as captain on several occasions, and joined Neville's coaching staff shortly after retiring.

She left to take up the top job of the newly-formed United side in June 2018, winning promotion to the WSL in her first season in charge.

"She has got her experience now in the Women's Super League and knowing Casey well, she loves England," Smith said.

"She loves Manchester United and where she is at the moment but she really takes pride with every single England cap.

"If England came knocking on the door, it would be difficult to turn down."

Hayes honoured but happy at Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at London Stadium on October 5, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) 1:13
Chelsea Women head coach Emma Hayes told The Football Show she is 'extremely happy' at the club with Phil Neville likely to step down as England head coach.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has again been linked with the role, having been previously touted before Neville's appointment in January 2018.

Chelsea are unbeaten in the Women's Super League this season and remained on course for a domestic treble, having already lifted the Continental League Cup, before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea Manager Emma Hayes during the Women's Super League match against Birmingham City at The Cherry Red Records Stadium
Image: Hayes says Neville has helped raise standards in the women's game

Hayes told Sky Sports' The Football Show on Thursday: "I still have half-a-season to go and a full season next season to contemplate, where hopefully we'll qualify for Europe.

"It's been no secret that I have really big ambitions to win the Champions League and I think we have built a team that is capable of that. We have a few more pieces to add to finish the side off.

"I love the day-to-day coaching. I've loved every minute working at Chelsea and I look forward to building on the work I've done so far.

"Of course it's an honour to be linked with the national team job. As an older person I'm probably more considered for entering into international football at some stage but right now, I'm extremely happy at Chelsea."

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Gary Neville told The Football Show he had spoken to his brother on Wednesday afternoon and believes Phil will honour his current contract if asked

Hayes was full of praise for Neville and hopes whoever takes over is able to build on his work.

"The women's game - especially since Phil has been in charge - has gone up a whole new level. It's reached the heights and broadcast figures we could only have dreamed of," Hayes said.

"We have to thank Phil for raising the standards in the women's game. It's exciting that there will be an Olympics, followed by a home Euros, followed by a World Cup so the future is looking bright. Hopefully post-coronavirus, we're able to come through without too much damage being done and we can pick up where we left off.

"There is more parity than ever and that includes the level of expectation. But Phil's always had the best of the women's game at heart. He's always wanted to raise the interest of the sport."

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