Lucy Bronze hails England's 'brave' new dawn under Phil Neville

John Skilbeck
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Lucy Bronze hails England's 'brave' new dawn under Phil Neville

Lucy Bronze hails England's 'brave' new dawn under Phil Neville

Lucy Bronze hailed a "brave" new dawn for the Lionesses after becoming the first England player to be chosen for the FIFPro Women's World XI.

The stand-in captain almost led Phil Neville's team to SheBelieves Cup glory in the United States, only for a 1-0 defeat against the hosts to deny England the trophy when a draw would have been enough.

But it was another tournament where England looked at home in the company of the world's top sides, with a 4-1 win over France followed by a 2-2 draw with Germany and the narrow loss on Wednesday night to the world champions.

Right-back Bronze has developed into one of the world's most accomplished defenders and last year moved from Manchester City Women to Lyon, the most successful club side in Europe.

She helped the Lionesses reach the Euro 2017 semi-finals, and was chosen to take over the armband from injured regular skipper Steph Houghton in Neville's first tournament as manager this month.

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Fellow England players Houghton, Millie Bright, Karen Carney and Jodie Taylor also made the 55-player FIFPro shortlist, along with Scotland's Caroline Weir. They were absent from the World XI, the third time such a side has been selected. More than 4,100 female players from 45 countries had their say.

"It's a very nice feeling to be in the World XI. The awards where players have voted for you are the best ones," Bronze said.

"It's voted for by the players who are playing against you - so they voted for me because they didn't like playing against me."

She expects England to gather momentum under Neville, whose appointment was clouded in controversy. He did not apply for the job, had no previous experience in women's football, and was only put forward after shortlisted candidates fell by the wayside.

Lucy Bronze and Megan Rapinoe tussle for possession (Getty)

Bronze has seen enough of Neville, the former England and Manchester United defender, to be confident England will progress, particularly in terms of their approach.

"Phil has been really good at bringing in new tactics," Bronze, 26, said.

"We've always believed we can outwork other teams, the players are in great shape. Now we have added a new side: being brave on the ball.

"We're not scared to maintain the ball. We won't be dictated to. It's really good timing for me because that is what I am learning since I joined Lyon last summer. Lyon are the best team in the world at keeping possession."

Chelsea's Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl was also selected for the World XI by her fellow professionals, and said it felt "humbling".

The 34-year-old added: "I'm thinking about all the years on this journey, the ups and downs, and all the people involved. People who looked at me when I was young and I told them about my dream, and they're like, 'Yeah, okay, good luck with that'. Now, there's something to show."

FIFPro Women's World XI (4-3-3): Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea/Sweden); Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg/Sweden), Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Irene Paredes (Paris St Germain/Spain), Wendie Renard (Lyon/France); Dzsenifer Maroszan (Lyon/Germany), Camille Abily (Lyon/France), Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil); Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/United States), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg/Denmark), Lieke Martens (Barcelona/Holland).