England Women manager Phil Neville has insisted that his side had enough quality to cover the absence of Chelsea FC Women striker Fran Kirby in their international friendly against Sweden Women at New York Stadium in Rotherham.
The 25-year-old Reading-born forward withdrew from the Lionesses squad after picking up an injury in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at West Ham United Women last weekend.
England were simply not at the races as they lost 2-0 to Sweden in Rotherham this afternoon. The Lionesses registered five shots on target but visiting keeper and Chelsea number one Hedvig Lindahl was rarely troubled.
Speaking to the Chelsea Presser in the post-match press conference, England boss Neville insisted that the absence of striker Kirby was not a key factor in the defeat.
“You are going to miss Jodie Taylor, Fran Kirby, Keira Walsh, you are going to miss all of those players” said Neville.
“I am totally happy with the team that I picked today and Thursday.
“We had enough on the pitch today, when the teamsheet went in, I felt totally safe that this team had enough to win.”
Kirby was replaced by Jordan Nobbs in the number 10 role who was arguably the best England player on the park and manager Neville went on to add “I played Jordan Nobbs in the number 10 position and she is probably in the form of her life.
“I never once this week since Fran pulled out thought ‘We need Fran Kirby on Sunday’ but ultimately, when you play the top 10 teams in the world, you need your best players who can play in a big occasion in-front of a sell-out crowd in a big stadium.
“I suppose we did (need Kirby) but saying that, we had enough quality on the pitch and on the bench.”
It is hoped that Kirby will be fit for Chelsea’s next fixture when they welcome struggling Yeovil Town to Kingsmeadow in the FA Women’s Super League.