England manager Phil Neville said he will “not stop believing” despite his side losing their opening World Cup warm-up match against Canada.
The Lionesses, who are up to third in the world rankings and will be among the favourites for this summer’s tournament in France, fell behind with nine minutes to go after a tap-in from Canadian stalwart Christine Sinclair.
His side had recovered from a sloppy first half to control the game after the break, but Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris – among others – could not convert
But Neville said he felt “relaxed” watching his side at a noisy Manchester City Academy Stadium, adding: “It was the type of test we needed against an experienced team. 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, who won the SheBelieves Cup in March, face Spain at Swindon’s County Ground on Tuesday (kick-off 19:00 BST) 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.”
Canada get their revenge
The last time these two sides met there were jubilant celebrations for the Lionesses as goals from Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze sent England through to the World Cup semi-finals on Canadian soil.
This time it was the visitors who walked away with the win.
England’s intent to play it out from the back was clear, but they gave away several loose balls in the first half which Canada failed to put away – their only shot on target from Sinclair was saved by Karen Bardsley.
Bronze – arguably the world’s best right-back – was again used in midfield as Neville attempts to mould a team capable of succeeding in France.
Former England defender Alex Scott said afterwards the move had not worked but there were positives elsewhere for Neville.
Manchester City forward Parris looked a constant menace and she helped spark life into the England team, who looked electric at times.
However, they failed to convert in front of goal. Duggan dragged her shot wide from close range, while goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe saved well from Karen Carney.
Sinclair, who at 35 is aiming for her fifth World Cup, eventually snatched the winner when she poked home from close range after Nichelle Prince’s strike was forced on to the bar. It was Sinclair’s 180th international goal.
Potential record-breakers and World Cup finals
If both England and Canada win their respective groups at the World Cup in France, they could meet in the final in Lyon on 7 July.
And if Sinclair makes the squad, she will have a chance of breaking American Abby Wambach’s world record for international goals. Currently, the Canada captain is just four goals behind.
“It is an honour to be chasing Abbey Wambach’s record down and to get it over with but it is not something we want to be focusing on,” she said.
“These are the games you live for, the perfect preparation for the World Cup and two teams that will go pretty far in the tournament.”
Canada manager Kenneth Heiner-Moller added: “This was a big step for us and by far the best opponent we have played this year. We look good and trained good and won so we leave England happy.”