Steph Houghton of England England v Canada Women's International Friendlies football match, Academy Stadium, Manchester, UK - 05 Apr 2019 Photo: Lynne Cameron for The FA

PREVIEW: Experienced trio to return for Lionesses against New Zealand

England Women are expected to welcome experienced trio Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton and Fran Kirby back to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s ‘Road to France’ fixture against New Zealand at The Amex Stadium in Brighton.

The trio were rested for last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Denmark Women in Walsall with all three players having featured heavily for their respective clubs towards the end of the season.

Speaking about the trio in last weekend’s post-match press conference, manager Phil Neville said “Houghton, Bronze and Kirby will start.

“They need the minutes and I want us to play with a better speed and rhythm.”

The Lionesses boss was critical of his side’s movement in last weekend’s fixture against Denmark. He described some of their build-up play as slow, particularly in the first half before the second period saw the Danish defence open up. England were far from being in complete control and on another day, it could have been a different story with Danish striker Signe Bruun having a goal disallowed for an alleged hand ball with the game goalless at the time.

The match against New Zealand is the final warm-up fixture before England fly out for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. ¬†With the country set to be hit by a mini-heatwave, playing quick, flowing football in Brighton could prove difficult, however, the conditions could set the Lionesses up well for their FIFA Women’s World Cup adventure with temperatures in parts of France set to exceed 30 degrees this weekend.

Saturday’s opponents New Zealand are ranked at 19th in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, two places behind Denmark and one ahead of England’s first FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 opponents Scotland. The Football Ferns went down 5-0 to the USA in Louis, Missouri earlier this month before beating Mexico 2-1 in New York.

More than 20,000 fans are expected to attend the match at The Amex Stadium with tickets continuing to be on-sale on the Brighton & Hove Albion website.

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