Sunderland boss has full focus on Everton clash after England call

Melanie Copeland
Melanie Copeland
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Sunderland Ladies boss Mel Copeland will have full focus on her side’s home WSL1 clash with Everton tonight - not her international call-up!

England manager Phil Neville has asked the Lady Cats’ Head Coach to assist him on England’s double header next week.

The Lionesses welcome Wales to Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium on Friday, April 6, in a Women’s World Cup qualifier, and then travel to meet Bosnia & Herzegovina on the following Tuesday.

Wales top qualifying Group 1 with 10 points from four games, a point ahead of England having played a game more. But two positive results for England would mean a big step towards qualifying for the 2019 finals in France.

Casey Stoney will continue her support role as part of The FA’s player-to-coach, but Neville is also looking forward to working with Copeland.

With Mo Marley, who travelled to the SheBelieves Cup in the USA with England, focusing on the U20s’ own World Cup this summer, Neville is keen to keep providing coaching opportunities within the women’s game.

He said: “I am delighted to have Mel coming with us for the next camp. I have said I want to give more elite international experience to the talented coaches we have in this country.

“With the plan being to finalise my permanent staff after the end of the season, we may do something similar with the June camp as well.”

Copeland added: “I’m honoured to have been asked to work with the England senior team and feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity.

“I really look forward to working with the players, the other backroom staff and Phil Neville.”

The England squad has strong Sunderland links, with Wearsiders Steph Houghton (captain) and Jill Scott again included, as well as fellow former Sunderland players Carly Telford, Demi Stokes, Lucy Bronze and Jordan Nobbs. And to add to the tally, former Black Cats goal machine Beth Mead - now with Arsenal - has earned a deserved call-up.

The focus for Copeland is firmly back on league action with the visit of Everton to Mariners Park tonight (7pm kick-off). Seventh-placed Sunderland are one position above Everton, with three more points.

Both sides played in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday. Sunderland were minutes away from a great win against Manchester City, but a late equaliser took the game into extra-time, where City clinched a 4-2 win.

Everton were the visitors to WSL2 side Durham Women, and won 6-1 to reach the semi-finals.