England are reaping the rewards of squad depth and a footballing philosophy.
That’s the view of England’s all-time leading appearance maker Fara Williams, who believes the Lionesses ability to win all three of their group games at the Women’s World Cup with three different starting line-ups shows the impact manager Phil Neville has had on the group.
England defeated Japan 2-0 on Wednesday despite making eight changes to the team which had beaten Argentina in the previous game. Those two wins followed the opening 2-1 win against Scotland.
And Williams, a veteran of England’s run to the semi-finals of the 2015 tournament, is encouraged by how the team has developed over the past four years.
“We’ve got a 23 now that are full-time professionals,” Williams, who play 170 games for England, told Yahoo Sport Presents The Football Show 24/7.
“That’s a little bit different to what the squad was looking like 4 years ago in 2015. But Phil Neville has a philosophy. He has a squad of 23 players which suit his style of play very well and I think that’s why they’re there and that’s why he can change it as much as he does ... any player can slot into the way he plays.”
Williams sees the contrast in styles to previous coach Mark Sampson, who led the team to a third-place finish at Canada 2015.
Whereas previous teams would have worried about how to stop the opposition, Williams now thinks England are imposing their style on games.
“Four years ago with Mark, his philosophy was about winning and finding a way to win and putting players in and adapting to opposition,” added the 35-year-old.
“So two different styles of play. I think the 23 that Phil’s got certainly know how to play and they’re well structured in his style.
“That’s why I think he’s getting away with making as many changes as he is.”
England progressed to the round of 16 as group winners and will play Cameroon in Valenciennes on Sunday.
Should Neville’s team prevail, Norway or Australia await in the quarter-finals.
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