Mark Sampson urges England Women to showcase Euro 2017 credentials at US event

28 February 2017 10:23

England Women boss Mark Sampson has told the Lionesses they have a golden chance to become proven world-beaters before the 'Battle of Britain' with Scotland at Euro 2017.

Sampson's side face France, the United States and Germany in the SheBelieves Cup over the next week in America, before tackling home friendlies against Italy and Austria in April.

The players will then look towards a summer trophy mission which begins with a group-stage clash against Scotland in Utrecht on July 19.

The first challenge on the five-step road to Holland comes with facing France in Philadelphia on Wednesday. England's three opponents at the invitational tournament in the US are the world's top three ranked sides, but Sampson's squad no longer put them on a pedestal.

Sampson told Press Association Sport: "We've got five games before we play Scotland, and that's five great opportunities to learn to get better.

"I'd be pretty scared if I was an opponent of England knowing that by the time we come to Holland, what a place we could be in on the back of these five games."

After France, England play world champions USA in New Jersey on March 4 before rounding off their SheBelieves Cup campaign three days later against Germany in Washington DC.

Sampson said: "This group of players now have such a strong sense of belief and winning mentality that they'll accept nothing less than three wins and a trophy, and if it's not there then of course we'll be disappointed."

England, who won the hearts of millions by finishing third at the 2015 World Cup, are ranked fifth by FIFA and Sampson portrays them as serious contenders to be European champions.

France sit third in the rankings, yet England are seemingly reeling them in after consecutive goalless draws against Les Bleues.

"We've started to get closer to France over the last three years, since the journey started for this team," England's Welsh boss said.

"We were stuffed by France at the Cyprus Cup three years ago - it was 2-0 but it could have been 20 - and then as the games have gone on we've found a way to be competitive and we've had better and larger spells in the games where we've been the better team.

"Importantly for us, we've managed to keep two clean sheets in our last two games against France. But we haven't managed to get on the scoresheet, and that's the difference for us now. In this tournament we've got to put in good performances and we've got to find a way to get over the line.

"If you look at the four groups of players here and compare USA to France, and France to Germany, and Germany to England, in terms of talent there's not a massive gap, so we've just got to work out how to deliver what it takes to win.

"So that phrase 'find a way to win' is the key of our time over at SheBelieves.

"The bigger picture is we've got to get better every training session and every match, but along those lines it helps when you win."

Source: PA