England v
Venue: Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough Date: 5 October, 12:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One and online, live text commentary and match report on the BBC Sport app.

England boss Phil Neville does not think women should playing stadiums every week despite records being set in the last month.

More than 30,000 fans will see England host in Middlesbrough on Saturday and a record crowd is set for November’s friendly against at .

The Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium in September set a Women’s Super League record of 31,213.

But Neville said: “Let’s fill the [club] stadiums we are in, and go to the big stadiums for the odd game.”

, West Ham and Bristol City have also all hosted WSL games at Premier League or EFL stadiums this season, adding to an upsurge in attendances.

Neville said: “There was a fantastic atmosphere at the Etihad and there were lots of people watching at London Stadium, but we still have to keep our feet on the ground.

“I like going to Kingsmeadow, Boreham Wood and Manchester City’s Academy, let’s keep filling those stadiums first. The big stadiums give players that carrot.

“They are great occasions which will keep inspiring the supporters and players. I think the level of performance in the WSL has doubled since last year.”

Steph Houghton and Phil Neville

‘Crowds send out a clear message’

England, ranked fifth in the world, beat Brazil 1-0 at Notts County’s Meadow Lane a year ago, with Fran Kirby scoring the winning goal in front of 7,864 fans.

But the forward is among several injured players for this game, with defenders Millie Bright, Demi Stokes and Abbie McManus also unavailable.

It means that is the only dedicated forward in the squad as England hope to show better form after losing 2-1 to last month and drawing 3-3 with Belgium at the end of August.

Midfielder Jordan Nobbs is back in the squad after a knee injury which kept her sidelined for nine months.

After facing Brazil, who are ranked 11th in the world, and who will feature six-times Fifa World Player of the Year Marta, Neville’s side travel to Portugal, ranked 31st in the world, on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a few injuries yes, but I’m genuinely excited for those players coming in, as some players have waited patiently and this is a reward for their patience and professionalism,” said Neville.

The game at Riverside Stadium will be a relative homecoming for several players from the north-east including skipper , Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott and Nobbs.

Manchester City defender Houghton said: “The eight of us involved in World Cup squad shows what the likes of Sunderland and other teams have done for developing players. It’s important for this region to produce players and hopefully there are few more coming through the ranks. We are proud to be from the north-east.”

Neville described the area as a “hotbed of football” and said that was recognised by the crowd on Saturday.

He added: “There has been a massive momentum shift since the World Cup. People aren’t coming because they’ve been forced to buy tickets, they genuinely want to see footballers from Brazil and England at the top of their profession.

“The crowds are bigger and bigger and there is a thirst to watch the Lionesses.

“In two years’ time we’ve got a home Euros in our country, so there will so much expectation on us to perform and win that competition. What we will see on Saturday and in November, is a team that now have to deal with that kind of expectation and it’s a tremendous challenge.

“It’s where we all want to be. The last 15 to 20 years, the players and coaches have had a lot thrown at them, but occasions like this are a reward for them as well, that’s why we are all excited.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here