Belles head coach Zoey Shaw felt her side picked up another invaluable experience when they faced England under-18s at St. George’s Park on Thursday evening.
Shaw’s side faced the young Lionesses in a behind-closed-doors game at the national training centre, and the head coach believes her team came through what was a very tough test very well.
“We played against a very high calibre of players, but I felt we did very well in what was a tough test for us all, especially in the first half an hour or so, we had to ride out some dips in form throughout the game but you’ll always get that against a side of that quality,” she said.
“The main things from the game, experiences aside, was getting minutes into the legs of the girls, especially those that are perhaps a bit lower on game time recently, and then that’ll help us to prepare well for Sunday.
“Some of the girls in our squad were up against players of their own or a similar age, we set our standards high so hopefully they’ve looked at those they’ve come up against and learned something from them and take that away going forward.”
Thursday night’s game against the young Lionesses was watched on by former England international Karen Carney who retired from the game following the Women’s World Cup earlier in the year, and Shaw believes having someone such as the 144-cap midfielder in attendance is a huge confidence booster to her young squad.
“It’s great for them all to be in and around this sort of set-up, but to have a face on the touchline like Karen Carney who has experienced the game at the highest level, one of the best players to date and that is fantastic for the girls,” she added.
“She is someone that has seen it all at the highest level, she’s pulled on the England shirt numerous times and to have her around when she’s probably a big role model for a lot of the girls that is massive.
“It’s a very valuable experience for the girls to come down to St. George’s Park once again and test themselves against some of the best, we played a game on the indoor 3G pitch the other week, but to play on the grass is a different experience for them.”