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Russia Ladies vs England Women.

Women's World Cup Qualifying Group 1.

Russia Ladies 1

  • E Danilova (31st minute)

England Women 3

  • N Parris (22nd minute)
  • J Scott (27th minute, 36th minute)

Russia Women v England Women preview

Lionesses looking to go top of 2019 Women's World Cup qualifying Group 1 with victory at Sapsan Arena in Moscow on Friday (kick-off 5pm BST)

Dan Long

Friday 8 June 2018 19:11, UK

Phil Neville
Image: Phil Neville takes charge of the Lionesses for the sixth time in Moscow on Friday evening

Ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier away to Russia, England Women's boss Phil Neville says he wants to increase the number of players available to him for future internationals.

Neville's side head to Moscow's Sapsan Arena in the midst of a near-perfect qualifying campaign, in which they have won four, drawn one, scored 17 and have yet to concede in Group 1.

Despite having only been in charge since late January 2018, Neville has tasted defeat just once - a 1-0 defeat to the USA in March's SheBelieves Cup final - and has used a relatively close-knit group of 25 players in his five games at the helm.

Steph Houghton
Image: England skipper Steph Houghton misses out after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week

And, speaking to TheFA.com, Neville has explained his reasoning behind his desire to increase the international player pool to around 40 players by the time the tournament starts next summer, should the Lionesses qualify.

"I want to widen the pool. In the past, England players have maybe had the comfort of knowing what the next squad is going to be before it's announced but I'd like there to be more uncertainty," he said.

"There [are] about 30 players in that pool now but I'd prefer it to be around 40, I'd be more comfortable with that. More competition for places means the standard goes up."

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With the prominence of the women's game on the rise in the UK, the FA has restructured the women's league pyramid, creating a fully-professional FA Women's Super League and a semi-professional FA Championship.

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The change - effective as of August 2018 - is intended to simplify the organisation, with Neville adamant that players who ply their trade below the Super League will not be ruled out of international contention.

He said: "I don't judge players on whether they're in the best WSL teams. I see them as individuals. I judge them on concentration, intensity and quality on the ball. I can consider Championship players for the World Cup.

0:30
Nikita Parris is in confident mood ahead of England Women's World Cup Qualifier in Russia on Friday

"I will go to Championship games next season and judge players on an individual basis. The pool of possible internationals good enough to get into my squad will grow."

A mere two points separate England from second-placed Wales and victory would inch them even closer to qualification for the showpiece in France next summer, with just three qualifiers remaining

The Lionesses - who demolished their Russian counterparts 6-0 at Prenton Park in September - currently occupy second spot in the FIFA world rankings, but Neville was keen to stress that misleading rankings aren't at the forefront of his mind.

during the International friendly match between France and England held at Stade du Hainaut on October 20, 2017 in Valenciennes, France.
Image: The Lionesses are unbeaten at the top of Group 1 and are yet to concede in five qualifying games

"People make a big thing about rankings," he added. "Being first or second in the world doesn't mean much if you don't actually win anything.

"Rankings aren't that important to me. I want a winners' medal."

Team news

Captain Steph Houghton underwent knee surgery on Tuesday and was replaced by Arsenal's Leah Williamson, while Isobel Christiansen (thigh) and Jordan Nobbs (foot) withdrew from the squad earlier on this week.

Their absence means Reading's Lauren Bruton and Sunderland's Lucy Staniforth have both been handed their first senior call-ups, joining the 20-player party in Moscow for the tie.

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