England women ease off ‘beast mode’ ahead of World Cup opener

Lucy Bronze has expressed her confidence England will be in “very good shape” for the Women’s World Cup as preparations continue ahead of Sunday’s Group D opener against Scotland.

The showpiece event in France, which starts on Friday, is the first tournament the Lionesses head into after a full Women’s Super League season over a winter. The league switched from summer after the 2016 edition.

The majority of the England squad were playing in the division last term, while Bronze and Toni Duggan have just completed a winter season with French champions Lyon and Barcelona respectively.

Lucy Bronze joined Lyon in 2017 (Ian Walton/PA).
Lucy Bronze joined Lyon in 2017. (Ian Walton/PA).

When asked about that, Bronze, who helped England come third at the 2015 World Cup and reach the semi-finals of Euro 2017, said: “The physical training has had to be adjusted a little bit but we’ve got a couple of very smart boys doing the physical stuff with us, we’ll still be in very good shape.

“We’ve had to tone the physical stuff down a bit so we’re fresh. We were really in beast mode going into the last two tournaments.

“We were really beasted with the physical work but this is different because it’s the end of the season.”

With Sunday’s match taking place at the Allianz Riviera in Nice, Phil Neville’s side arrived in the city on Tuesday and trained on Wednesday at Parc des Sports Charles Ehrmann.

Forward Duggan withdrew from the session as a precaution after feeling a thigh issue, whie left-back Demi Stokes, with a strapping on her left leg, did not take part.

Right-back Bronze, who joined Lyon in 2017 after leaving Manchester City, said: “We’re just getting used to the heat. We’ve been training with lots of layers and thermals to get us ready before coming out here.

“We’ve got quite a bit of time off. Phil knows we need plenty of downtime to be properly relaxed.

“When we’re in it we’re in it and fully focused but we’ve got a couple of hours off each day where we can just go and chill, see family and friends.

“My sister comes out for this game, mum and dad next one (against Argentina in Le Havre a week on Friday), then….they’re all on rotation.

Bronze, England boss Phil Neville and the rest of the squad flew from Heathrow to Nice on Tuesday (Ian Walton/PA).
Bronze, England boss Phil Neville and the rest of the squad flew from Heathrow to Nice on Tuesday. (Ian Walton/PA).

“Everyone always asks now are you the translator. I speak French now but the other girls all laugh when I speak French – but it would be the same if Toni started speaking Spanish.”

She added: “We’ve got no security problems. We’ve got our staff who’ve scoped out the area. We’ve got our safety regulations which we’ll follow but that’s part of travel round the world.

“Like Mark (Sampson, who Neville succeeded in January 2018) Phil gives us a lot of freedom in downtime but whereas Mark had a lot of meetings, Phil doesn’t like to keep us locked up together for too long in the hotel.

“It’s all very simple, precise. He gives us free time. He knows what it’s like to be a player and he knows you can get bogged down in too much detail.

“It’s similar but different under Mark and him. Phil puts so much trust in us players he gets a lot of respect back.”

The semi-finals and final of the tournament take place at Groupama Stadium, where Bronze’s Lyon play some of their home matches.