Head coach Phil Neville says women’s football is at a “tipping point” after England revealed their squad for the Fifa Women’s World Cup through a series of celebrity announcements on social media.
Eleven players will be taking part in their first senior World Cup, while veterans Karen Carney and Jill Scott will be appearing at their fourth World Cup.
England have been drawn against Scotland, Argentina and Japan in France and will begin their campaign against Scotland in Nice on June 9.
“I think this World Cup is a tipping point for the women’s game where I think it’s just going to go ‘boom’,” former Manchester United and England defender Neville told reporters at Wembley on Wednesday.
“I think we’re in a period now where it can only get bigger and better. I think there’s a bigger picture than just England this summer. I think this is going to be the greatest, biggest Women’s World Cup of all time.”
Neville, appointed in January last year, hailed the huge strides made in the women’s game, saying “respect” had been the biggest change he had witnessed.
“We’re now seeing elite athletes playing at the top of their game,” he said while urging fans to pack the stadium for England’s final warm-up game against New Zealand in Brighton.
“I think respect is the word I would use and you only gain respect by the quality you see on the field and I think what we’re seeing now is unbelievable quality.”
Prince William announced earlier that Steph Houghton would lead England at tournament, with the squad of 23 players being named one by one.
Others making the announcements via social media included former England captain David Beckham, actress Emma Watson and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.
“The countdown is on to a momentous summer of football as our Lionesses head to France to take on the world’s best at the Women’s World Cup,” William said in a video posted on his official Twitter account.
“It gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that England’s defensive rock and captain, Steph Houghton, will be on the plane to France.
“Steph, congratulations. I know you and the team will do the nation proud. Good luck.”
Beckham, a former teammate of Neville’s at United, announced the inclusion of Nikita Parris, who will wear the number seven shirt, on Instagram.
“It’s a shirt that I wore for many years with pride,” he said. “It’s a shirt that I captained my country in so I know that Nikita will do exactly the same, wear this shirt with pride.
“Also a message to Phil and all the Lionesses for the World Cup this summer – good luck, we’ll be watching.”
Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Man City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Man Utd), Steph Houghton (captain, Man City), Abbie McManus (Man City), Demi Stokes (Man City) Leah Williamson (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Jade Moore (Reading), Jill Scott (Man City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City)
Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona) Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Man City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Birmingham City)