The Lionesses failed to impress for interim coach Hege Riise on two occasions, with all but one of the ten called up Manchester City players receiving game time ahead of Olympic selection.
England first travelled to Caen where they were met by a strong French side, who despite missing the likes of Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry, outplayed Riise’s side. Ellie Roebuck, Alex Greenwood, Keira Walsh, Ellen White and City loanee Jill Scott all made it into the starting XI and despite an ok start, the Lionesses seemed to struggle after the first goal by Sandy Baltimore.
Roebuck made some great saves, but the defence struggled as a whole to stop the likes of Baltimore and more so when Riise made changes at half time. Chloe Kelly was introduced in place of the returning Nikita Parris and Greenwood made way for Chelsea youngster Niamh Charles.
The substitution of Lauren Hemp in place of Beth Mead did little to impact the game at first, despite the front three now being made up of City players. Hemp struggled to get the service she needed however both her and Walsh were arguably the best players on the pitch.
England were awarded some sort of redemption in the form of a penalty scored by Fran Kirby with ten minutes to go, but were dealt another blow when Marie-Antoinette Katoto scored a third for France.
The Lionesses then returned to St. George’s Park to prepare for Canada, a side that had put three past Wales at the end of the previous week. The visitors were looking strong with City’s Janine Beckie having come on early in the second half and proved to be a powerful impact sub.
Hege Riise made six changes for the game in Stoke, with City’s Demi Stokes, Georgia Stanway and Hemp all coming into the starting squad, while Beckie started for the opposition.
They didn’t start so brightly either, as the Canadians were 1-0 up within 3 minutes thanks to Evelyne Viens, Stokes misjudging the pass and allowing Viens to chip Carly Telford in the Lionesses goal. Demi made way for Greenwood after half an hour, a planned substitution to control the defender’s injury and fitness, with loanee goalkeeper Karen Bardsley coming on for Telford at half time.
The worries didn’t stop there for England, with Canada bringing on Nichelle Prince and Jordyn Huitema early into the second half. The Lionesses struggling to contain the two forwards, having a similar battle to stop Deanne Rose in the first 45.
Ellen White made an appearance ten minutes before the 90, replacing Nikita Parris, with Lucy Bronze and Chloe Kelly also being subbed on around the hour mark, but the changes didn’t help the home side who struggled to control the flow of the game. They once again showed their weakness in defence and unable to play the correct balls forward for the likes of Hemp and Kelly to show the best of their ability.
Canada struck with four minutes of the 90 to go. Millie Bright played it back to Bardsley, who thought she had more time on the ball than she did, but Prince closed her down and slotted home for the opposition.
Beckie was the best City player on the pitch, having assisted Viens goal and showed coach Bev Priestman why she should take her to Tokyo, with Georgia Stanway awarded player of the match by the BBC for the Lionesses.
Three other City players were also in action over the international period, as Rose Lavelle made it into the starting eleven for the USA against Sweden, with Sam Mewis replacing her around the hour mark in their 1-1 draw; Abby Dahlkemper was left out with a small injury.
Lavelle, Mewis and Dahlkemper then all played 90 minutes in the USA’s 2-0 win over the French in Le Havre.