Kaz Carney, pictured, the Chelsea Women captain, started a Lionesses game against highly fancied Canada which produced a 1-0 defeat on Friday night, and an important reality check ahead of the summer’s World Cup.
England manager Phil Neville knows that if results in France go a certain way, his team could find themselves in the final facing Canada again.
His side, now third in the world rankings after their SheBelieves triumph in the States, fell behind with just nine minutes remaining at Man City’s Academy Stadium; a goal from the experienced Canadian Christine Sinclair.
Carney was no longer on the field, having been subbed by Beth Mead shortly after the hour mark.
“It was the type of test we needed against an experienced team,” said Neville. “We handled most things well. We played most of the second half in their half and I saw things I liked and can build on. I am pleased with my players.”
England next face Spain at Swindon’s County Ground on Tuesday night in the second of their four pre-World Cup friendlies.
“I will make changes,” said Neville. “Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton are out after suffering knocks. It is a chance for a few players to get some freshness and keep the momentum going forward. This does not stop us from believing or going on the road where we want to.”
Blues defender Millie Bright was an unused sub in the Canada game.
If both England and Canada win their respective groups at the World Cup in France, they could meet in the final in Lyon on July 7.
Canada manager Kenneth Heiner-Moller said afterwards: “This was a big step for us and by far the best opponent we have played this year. We look good and trained well, and won, so we leave England happy.”