Phil Neville: England women's boss has 30 instant message chats with players

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Neville 'won't be defined' by England v Wales 'grudge match'
Women's World Cup qualifier - Wales v England
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: Friday, 31 August Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website; live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.

England women's boss Phil Neville has set up 30 WhatsApp chats for his players to "know every little thing that will make them tick".

Neville, 41, started in the role in January and will attempt to ensure World Cup qualification when England face Wales in Newport on Friday.

He says the online messages help build relationships with his players, who he contacts on a daily basis.

"My biggest challenge is not having contact with the players," he said.

"We have 30 WhatsApp groups, one for every player, and I also text them individually.

"It's the only way we can be in constant contact with them. For me to know every facet of their lives is important. You've got to build relationships with your players."

Phil Neville
Phil Neville replaced former England boss Mark Sampson in January

'If they have an ice cream, I know about it'

Neville, whose team will qualify for the World Cup if they beat Wales in Newport and still have their fate in their own hands if they draw, added: "In the first month after I took over, the messages between me and them were maybe once or twice a week. But now we speak every single day with every single player.

"We've got this new culture now and the players have even started texting me first.

"I know every part of their lives. My players love their dogs, I know their dogs' names, I know their partners, I know if they go to the cinema. It's the detail you need to be successful. Thirty WhatsApp groups is a lot but I know everything they're doing. If they have an ice cream, I know about it.

"I need to know every little thing that will make my players tick."

Phil Neville watches midfielder Jordan Nobbs train
Phil Neville watches midfielder Jordan Nobbs train

'His texts make you watch what you post on Instagram!'

England midfielder Jordan Nobbs said the communication from her manager was important to develop relationships and be a "strong team on and off the pitch".

But the Arsenal player said she had to watch what she posted on social media.

"We all have WhatsApp groups and there's banter," she said. "It's nice to know Phil wants us to develop relationships and be a strong team on and off the pitch.

"We're all getting to know everyone better. His texts make you watch your back - and what you post on Instagram! But it's nice to know he's constantly on our backs - and also just a normal guy.

"We all want to win together and those little things like him texting us all build up into a bigger picture."

Lyon and England defender Lucy Bronze added: "Phil speaks to us a lot about how we're feeling. It's good the manager is concerned about every single player.

"It's not just one or two players, he's bought into every single player - not just in the squad but beyond. It helps because everybody knows he cares. Everyone feels appreciated.

"We're transforming from where we were, we're not the finished product yet but his relationships with us are helping towards that."

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