Neville not worried about England's form - but calls for more 'ruthlessness' ahead of Portugal clash

Despite the Lionesses' worst run of results in six years, the boss is not worried and believes that performances have been pleasing

Phil Neville insists he is not worried about England’s run of five games without a win – but he will be looking to change things ahead of their clash with Portugal on Tuesday.

A double from Debinha gave Brazil a 2-1 win in Middlesbrough on Saturday, with both goals described as “easily preventable” by defender Leah Williamson.

Beth England came off the bench and pulled one back for the Lionesses with her first senior international goal, and she could be one of those brought into the team this week.

Asked whether he was worried by England’s current run of form, being the first time since 2013 that they’ve gone five games without a win – a run that ended in Hope Powell’s sacking – Neville said: “No. I’ll sleep well when we play like that.

“We have to win football games. It’s not just a ‘Let’s just keep everybody happy’ type role.

“The FA want me to win football matches, so I want to be judged like any other manager.

“We have to grow the game, but we also have to win football matches. That’s not changed from day one.

“It’s just, at this moment in time, what’s happening on the left-hand side in terms of the growth is really fast and really exciting, and we need to keep moving at a similar speed on the right-hand side by winning games.”

With a number of injuries plaguing the current team, changes will be made as England try and end their winless run.

Demi Stokes, Millie Bright, Fran Kirby and Abbie McManus all withdrew from the squad before the Brazil fixture, while Jill Scott has since returned to Manchester City due to an ankle strain.

Neville confirmed that Jordan Nobbs, only recently back from an ACL injury, won’t play in Portugal and hinted that some of the younger players could get their chance instead.

Debinha Brazil 2019

“There are a couple of young players. Lauren Hemp’s been training with us all week, Chloe Kelly, and Ellie Roebuck is with us as well, so there’s a couple of young players that we want to have a look at,” he said.

It could also be a chance for goal-scorer England to start. Neville will hope she can provide what the Lionesses need, especially with Ellen White out injured.

“If you look at the way Ellen played in the World Cup, and Jodie [Taylor] in the [2017] Euros, that’s the level we want in terms of being clinical,” he said.

“Beth England came on and scored the goal, and we’re looking for that hunger and ruthlessness in the final third.

“It’s not just the centre-forward, the attacking front six need to contribute by being ruthless. They need to make sure we punish teams.

“We want to score the perfect goal sometimes, but sometimes just lashing the ball in the back of the net is the best thing.

“I’d say that was probably our biggest downfall [against Brazil].”

England is ready to take her chance if it comes her way, too.

“Obviously, everyone wants to play,” the 25-year-old said.

Article continues below

I have to appreciate that it is still an early part of my journey. It’s going to be tough to go in ahead of the likes of Jodie for example, being such a great striker for us.

“If I get started, I get started, I’ll still put 100% in just as I would if I come off the bench.

“If I bag a goal, happy days, but I have faith in the teams he puts out.”