Sunderland star back in England squad

Rachael Laws
Rachael Laws
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Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws has been named in the England squad for their first home game since winning bronze at this summer’s World Cup.

Manchester City striker Toni Duggan returns to the squad, with Sunderland’s Beth Mead stepping down.

Manchester City striker Toni Duggan returns to the squad, with Sunderland’s Beth Mead stepping down.

Mead and Laws were both in coach Mark Sampson’s squad that played two friendlies in China, although neither saw any game time.

The Lionesses face Bosnia & Herzegovina a week on Sunday at Ashton Gate, Bristol, as part of their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign.

The same squad will also travel to Duisburg to play Germany next Thursday in a friendly which will be shown live on the BBC Red Button.

It is the first time the two teams will have faced each other since England secured third place in the World Cup, beating Germany 1-0 thanks to a Fara Williams penalty.

Sampson, who managed FA Women’s Super League side Bristol Academy before becoming England head coach, said: “We are really looking forward to playing in England, in front of our supporters, for the first time since the World Cup.

“Women’s football fans in the south west are some of the best in the country and I know they will come out in force to get behind the Lionesses.

“2015 has been an amazing year for the team and our supporters, full of special memories for everyone involved.

“To end the year with a match in Germany, one of the biggest tests in women’s football, and then the team’s homecoming in Bristol against Bosnia is a fitting way to mark such a big year for the game.

“In November last year we were well beaten by an excellent Germany team at Wembley, but since then we have grown as a group and worked on developing a much stronger mentality which will be tested in Duisburg.

“It has been a long, hard season for the players and our domestic league finished some weeks ago. But the players are all professional and I expect them to be prepared physically and mentally.

“We will focus on being a strong group and making life as difficult as possible for our opponents, and I am confident that we can get two positive results.”

England squad. Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Rachael Laws (Sunderland), Carly Telford (Notts County)

Defenders: Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Notts County), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Arsenal), Amy Turner (Notts County)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Liverpool)

Forwards: Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Jess Clarke (Notts County), Gemma Davison (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), Ellen White (Notts County).