England women boss Phil Neville called his team’s friendly win over Denmark “messy” – and said it was partly down to camping with the Royal Marines.
The Lionesses laboured to a 2-0 victory on a poor pitch at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium thanks to goals from Nikita Parris and Jill Scott.
Neville anticipated difficulties after a tough week of training that included a night in a forest with the Marines.
“We half expected that performance to be a little bit leggy,” he said.
“We trained them hard and had the team bonding day where they only got one or two hours’ sleep.
“There was a little bit of fatigue and the pitch was really energy sapping.”
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Euro 2017 champions Denmark – who are ranked 17th in the world, 14 places below England – had chances at the start of both halves before Parris’ goal in first-half stoppage time eased nerves.
Scott’s header came following the break as England gradually improved after their first-half performance left Neville underwhelmed.
“I was bored watching it in the first half,” Neville added.
“The disappointment was we didn’t play with any rhythm; we played stand-still football. When we got into areas, we looked so excitable and made the wrong decision.
“It looked messy and there was no composure on the pitch. A few of those players needed that jolt.”
‘An emotional strain on Parris’
Neville praised Parris after she scored her 12th England goal at the end of a week in which she joined European champions Lyon from Manchester City.
The former Manchester United and Everton defender acknowledged that the upheaval had had an impact on the 25-year-old Liverpudlian’s frame of mind.
“The kid’s has had such a big 10 days in her life – the girl from Toxteth is now going to live in France,” he said.
“She’s changed clubs and it’s the first time she’s moved away from home. It’s a big emotional strain on anyone, so we wanted to protect her – but she’s a goal threat.
“We have to protect her over the next 10 days to get back to the levels we know she can. We need to protect the jewels we have.”
Neville also confirmed that Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton and Fran Kirby will face New Zealand on Saturday in their final warm-up game.
“I’ve played in pre-tournament games,” said Neville, who went to three European Championships with England as a player.
“You stand in front of the players and say ‘let’s get going’ but they’ve got half a mind on Scotland in Nice. My job is to motivate the team but I’m not daft.
“Four or five tackles we went into, we didn’t come out of because they’re thinking of England v Scotland so it’s human nature.
“I was ready after the SheBelieves Cup. These games are a bit of nuisance because you want the players to come through unscathed.”
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.