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Meet your Lionesses: the players to watch from our region

The squad kick off the summer tournament on June 7 Credit: The squad kick off the summer tournament on June 7

The World Cup journey has begun for England's Lionesses.

The squad, including eight players from our region, flew to France ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday 7 June. Seven of the ladies selected by manager Phil Neville are ex-Sunderland players.

England is in Group D, alongside Argentina, Japan and Scotland who they play first, at Stade de Nice on June 9.

Meet some of your Lionesses representing the North East and North Yorkshire...

  • England v Scotland - Sunday 9 June, kick-off 5pm
Steph Houghton, defender Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Steph Houghton

  • 31
  • England Captain
  • Defender
  • From South Hetton in County Durham
  • 105 caps for England

Steph Houghton has represented her country at every level, totalling more than 100 appearances for England.

She was awarded her 100th cap ahead of the meeting with Sweden at Rotherham last November.

She joined Manchester City on New Year’s Day 2014 in the hope of advancing an already illustrious career.

Houghton turned professional at local club Sunderland Ladies before signing for Leeds United Ladies in 2007. The transfer was a successful one for the Durham-born left-back who was named the 2008 FA Women’s Young Player of the Year. In 2010, she also picked up a FA Women’s Cup winners medal with Leeds.

Although predominantly a left-sided defender, Houghton appeared in a variety of positions for the Lilywhites and her versatility attracted particular interest from Arsenal. She signed for the Gunners in August 2010, appearing 12 times and scoring twice during her time in North London. She then went on to lift the FA Women's Cup with the club as captain.

Representing Team GB at the Olympics, Houghton became a household name by scoring in all three group matches, including the winning goals against New Zealand and Brazil.

A rock for City throughout the 2014 season, she was awarded the captain's armband for her country and went on to become the first female to appear on the front cover of Shoot Magazine.

She will lead the Lionesses at this summer's World Cup finals.

Lucy Bronze Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Lucy Bronze

  • 27
  • Defender
  • From Berwick-Upon-Tweed
  • 68 caps for England

Part of Lucy's childhood was spent on Holy Island, as her Grandmother was caretaker of Lindisfarne Castle.

Lucy started her junior career playing for Belford in the Glendale League before moving on to Alnwick Town Juniors, that's until the FA ruled that she wasn’t allowed to play with the boys from the age of 12.

Bronze has progressed through the England age groups and won the U19 European Championship with Mo Marley.

Domestically, she played for Sunderland, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City. In England, she won 3 WSL titles and an FA Cup.

After being named ‘Player of the Match’ in Sunderland’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal, she also moved to the University of North Carolina to study and play.

Lucy plays for French side Olympique Lyonnais, and helped her team win the Champions League.

She is widely regarded as one of the best players in world football.

Jill Scott Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Jill Scott

  • 32
  • Midfielder
  • From Sunderland
  • 136 caps for England

From Fulwell in Sunderland, as a teenager, Jill had to decide between running and football. She competed for Sunderland Harriers, winning the North of England Under-13 cross-country title, as well as the Junior Great North Run.

A highly respected figure across the game, Jill Scott has 136 caps to her name.

Since her debut in 2006, Scott has played a key role for England and has also represented Great Britain at the London Olympics.

The box-to-box midfielder began her career at hometown club Sunderland before signing for Everton in 2006 and joining Manchester City eight years later.

In the absence of regular skipper Steph Houghton, she captained England in their 2-1 win over Spain in April 2019 and will be making her fourth appearance at a World Cup finals this summer.

Carly Telford Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Carly Telford

  • 31
  • Goalkeeper
  • From Newcastle
  • 18 caps for England

Carly attended Tanfield School in Durham and then continued her studies at Gateshead College.

England manager Phil Neville is certainly a fan of Carly Telford, offering her plenty of opportunities in the first 14 months his reign - a welcome run for a player who made her debut for England in 2007.

Telford has been part of two World Cup squads, most recently in 2015 when the Lionesses won a bronze medal in Canada, and she was also selected for the 2017 European Championship squad but was mostly understudy.

Telford began her career with Sunderland and Leeds United before signing for Chelsea in 2011.

She captained the Blues in the 2012 FA Cup final and during her time with the club, Telford also gained experience further afield during a loan spell with Australian club Perth Glory.

She left at the end of 2013 to join Notts County. The highlight of her time with the Lady Pies was playing in the first Women’s FA Cup final held at Wembley Stadium, when Notts were beaten by Chelsea.

Telford returned to Chelsea in 2017 and was part of the Blues’ WSL 1 title and Women's FA Cup-winning squad.

Demi Stokes Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Demi Stokes

  • 27
  • Defender
  • From South Shields
  • 51 caps for England

Born in the Midlands but raised in South Shields, Demi Stokes signed for Sunderland's youth team at the age of eight and went on to make her senior debut in 2007.

She played a part in the side that secured the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division and reached the final of the FA Women's Cup in 2009 - a feat she still regards as a career highlight.

She remained at the North East outfit before accepting a four-year scholarship to the University of South Florida in 2011. The following year, she made 13 appearances for Canada's Vancouver Whitecaps before continuing her career with her college side.

The youngster tasted success on the international stage, having lifted the 2009 UEFA Women's U19 Championship alongside Bronze, Toni Duggan and Isobel Christiansen. She also captained Great Britain to a gold medal in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia.

She made her senior debut for England in January 2014 and received her 50th cap in England’s match against Canada in April 2019.

Stokes joined Manchester City in January 2015.

Lucy Staniforth Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Lucy Staniforth

  • 26
  • Midfielder
  • From York
  • 10 caps for England

Lucy Staniforth made her England debut in September 2018.

Born in York, Staniforth made her first appearance for Sunderland when she was just 16-years-old and helped the club to the FA Women’s Premier League North title and 2009 Women’s FA Cup final.

She emerged as a key player in Sunderland's success and was a mainstay of the side as they finished fifth in their first season back at the top level.

As an 18-year-old she made the switch to Lincoln Ladies where she quickly established herself as a prominent figure. After a brief spell with Bristol Academy she was snapped up by reigning WSL Champions Liverpool for a significant transfer fee.

She returned to Sunderland in January 2016 and was quickly made club captain ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Staniforth joined Birmingham City in July 2018. She has been described by former England coach Mark Sampson as "one of the best young players in Europe".

Beth Mead Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Beth Mead

  • 24
  • Forward
  • From Whitby
  • 14 caps for England

Beth started playing football aged six, but was taken on by Middlesbrough’s Centre of Excellence at the age of 12, when she "started taking football seriously."

Beth joined Arsenal in January 2017, bringing an end to her association with Sunderland, which had lasted since 2011.

Joining at 21 years of age, Beth had already scored 77 goals in 78 appearances for her former club prior to her arrival in north London.

She made her senior debut under Phil Neville in the 0-0 draw with Wales in Southampton following years of experience at international level – she represented England since she was 15 years old.

Mead was also part of the England squad at the 2014 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup where she scored a long-range goal against Mexico.

She was on target in England’s 2-1 win over Spain at Swindon Town last month and recently lifted the FA WSL title with Arsenal.

Rachel Daly Credit: The FA/Wonderhatch

Rachel Daly

  • 27
  • Defender
  • From Harrogate
  • 22 caps for England

Rachel is 'able to operate effectively as a full-back, a wing back or even in the frontline.'

Rachel joined Houston Dash through the 'draft' system in 2016.

She grew up playing for Leeds United and won the League Cup Championship in 2009. She also spent time with the Lincoln Ladies.

Daly played for England at the U17 Women's World Cup and earned her first senior cap in 2016. She finished her college career as St. John's all-time leader in goals.

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Messages of support for the England women's national football team have appeared on 23 billboards across the country.

The billboards have appeared across the country in locations that are special to each player and their journey, from where they grew up to the location of their current club.

Sunderland local Jill Scott is one of England’s most capped players - her billboard can be found close to the Stadium of Light in her beloved home town.

Jill’s message is written by former coach, Paul Smith:

“You were a dream to coach, always listened and willing to learn. Good luck, everyone at Bolden C.A. Girls Football Club will be watching."

“This is a great send-off for the team ahead of the World Cup and encapsulates the phenomenal support that they have received so far. The girls know that the country is fully behind them and can’t wait to get out there and give it everything.”

– Phil Neville, England women's manager
Jill Scott billboard in Southwick, Sunderland Credit: FA
Rachel Daly's billboard in Harrogate Credit: FA
Demi Stokes' billboard in Manchester Credit: FA
Lucy Staniforth's billboard in Birmingham Credit: FA
Steph Houghton's billboard in Manchester Credit: FA
Lucy Bronze's billboard in Manchester Credit: FA
Beth Mead's billboard in London Credit: FA
Carly Telford's billboard in London Credit: FA

The FIFA Women’s World Cup runs from 7 June to 7 July with the Lionesses playing their first game on 9 June against Scotland in Nice, kick off 17:00 (BST).

All fixtures will be broadcast live on the BBC.

For more information visit www.thefa.com/lionesses