Phil Neville names Anita Asante in first England women squad

Anita Asante
Anita Asante joined Chelsea in December after a four-year stint with Swedish side Rosengard

England women head coach Phil Neville has named Chelsea's Anita Asante in his first squad for the SheBelieves Cup in the United States next month.

Defender Asante, who was last called up in 2015, was one of several players who said they were poorly treated by previous boss Mark Sampson.

Skipper Steph Houghton is named in the squad despite having an injured foot.

England kick off the SheBelieves Cup against France on 1 March with all three matches live on the BBC.

The Lionesses will also take on Germany on 4 March, before facing hosts the United States on 8 March.

"I hope this squad shows that the door is not closed to anyone," said Neville after picking 32-year-old Asante, who has 70 caps and joined Chelsea in December following a four-year stint with Swedish side Rosengard.

"Those in form will always have a strong chance of being picked."

Reading midfielder Jo Potter and Arsenal forward Danielle Carter are among those who miss out but there is a chance of a first cap for Chelsea defender Hannah Blundell and Everton midfielder Gabby George.

Mo Marley takes on coaching duties on an interim basis
Mo Marley (right) will provide "invaluable input" according to Neville

Neville names Marley as interim assistant

Neville will be assisted by Mo Marley on a short-term basis after her interim stint before the former Manchester United coach was appointed last month.

A permanent number two is unlikely to be appointed before the summer.

Former England captain Casey Stoney will also be part of the backroom staff after retiring from playing this week, while men's England Under-18 coach Mark Mason will take on goalkeeping duties.

Neville said: "I have been really impressed by what I have seen in the past few weeks. Some exciting young players have caught my eye, and not just those that have been picked for this squad.

"They will get an opportunity in the coming months to challenge the established players who, of course, deserve big respect for what they have done to take this team to third in the world.

"To those that have just missed out this time, I hope they use that disappointment in the right way to force their way into contention. We want to go to the SheBelieves Cup with a positive approach and then kick on into the World Cup qualifiers."

Anita Asante at Euro 2013
Asante has played in two World Cups and two European Championships for England

Asante completes long road back to squad

Asante was one of four players who complained of being badly treated by former boss Sampson, who was sacked last September for "inappropriate" conduct while in his previous job at Bristol Academy.

The 32-year-old's complaint was that she was given no reason for being dropped from the 2015 World Cup squad a month before the rest of the squad, and felt that she was ostracised from the squad ever since she asked Sampson to explain.

Asante, who has previously played for Chelsea and Arsenal, also said there was an "environment of silence" in the squad and praised Eniola Aluko for speaking out against Sampson, who was found to have used racist language towards the Chelsea striker as well as club-mate Drew Spence.

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked Spence - a mixed-race player - if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

Despite concluding Sampson had made remarks which were "discriminatory on the grounds of race", the report into the investigation said it did not believe he is racist and said Aluko was not subjected to "a course of bullying".

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Chelsea).

Defenders: Anita Asante, Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright (all Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes (both Manchester City).

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen, Jill Scott, Keira Walsh (all Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Fara Williams (Reading).

Forwards: Karen Carney, Fran Kirby (both Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Melissa Lawley, Nikita Parris (both Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

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