Hege Riise sees the test in France as a chance for England to “prove itself”

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Nikita Parris was a late recall from the team (John Walton / PA).


England Women interim boss Hege Riise said the mentality for Friday’s friendly against France in Caen should be to “pursue them and prove themselves”.

After beating Northern Ireland 6-0 in February in their first game under Riise – and their first international game in almost a year – the Lionesses go on to face a team that sit third in the world rankings, three places above them.

The game against Les Bleues is then followed by a clash on Tuesday at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium with Canada, who are co-eighth in the standings.

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Riise saw England beat Northern Ireland 6-0 in their first game at the helm in February (Handout / FA / PA).

Riise said at a press conference on Thursday: “We are playing against a good opponent, world number three. It’s been a long time since we had this good competition.

“Playing in Northern Ireland has been good for us, a good start – the next two games we are now playing a stronger opponent, and that will see the character, where we are and what we need to move forward. “

She added: “It will be a tough game for us, but I think our mentality should now be that we want to go after them, prove ourselves and show that we are a good team.

“What we worked on, seeing that during the game, seeing the confidence of the players – that’s what we want. “

It will be a tough game for us, but I think our mentality should now be to want to chase them, to prove ourselves and to show that we are a good team.Hege Riise

After England’s double friendly, Riise named her 18-man British team for the Tokyo Olympics in May.

Asked about this team on Thursday, the Norwegian said: “I try not to talk too much about it.

“They (the players) know the competition, but I still want them to be relaxed and play their best. More relaxed, having fun is what we all love, going out on the court and playing.

Riise said that while there are “some players who will almost certainly be in” the GB squad, she could “not say numbers”, and added: “I have to sit down when these two games are finished, look at all players in the local nation and decide after that.

Out of the squad for France and Canada games injured captain Steph Houghton – Riise said she has decided who will be England’s skipper for both games, but would not disclose the name of the player.

Lyon striker Nikita Parris was initially absent from the team following positive cases of coronavirus at his club, before arriving late, after being allowed to do so after testing negative.

This is the first time Riise has been able to work with Parris, and she said of the 27-year-old: “It’s been good.

“That’s why I wanted her, even if she arrived late, to receive her in a few sessions before leaving for France. It was good for her to be back in the team. She’s been out of the team for a long time. She is happy and we are happy.

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Nikita Parris was a late recall from the team (John Walton / PA).

“She is ready. She’s been in two sessions now, she looks good, happy, enjoys being back, great energy coming in.

Absent from France include captain Amandine Henry, after the Lyon midfielder tested positive for Covid-19 last weekend.

When asked if she thought France, given the situation in Lyon, would still be close enough to their best on Friday, Riise said: “I expect that. I think they have great players. I expect a great team tomorrow. “

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