England manager Phil Neville praised the “enthusiasm and mentality” of fit-again Jordan Nobbs and believes the Arsenal midfielder could reach a world-class level in the next 12 months.
The 26-year-old, who has 56 senior caps to her name, was a certainty for Phil Neville’s World Cup squad before rupturing knee ligaments in a Women’s Super League game against Everton last November.
She made her WSL return in a 2-1 win over West Ham on September 8 and is now back in the England squad for the first time since her injury.
The Lionesses have two friendlies coming up, hosting Brazil at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on October 5 before travelling to face Portugal three days later.
Neville has also taken the opportunity to recall fit-again trio Alex Greenwood, Jill Scott and Fran Kirby, who all missed the recent games against Belgium and Norway through injury.
“Her mentality has been great,” he said of Nobbs.
“We have kept her involved in most things we have been doing, she has come to a couple of camps and visited us in the summer because she was doing media work.
“We have been in constant contact with her. Her attitude is phenomenal and from the minute she was diagnosed her focus was to get back into the England shirt as soon as possible.
“We have spoken to Arsenal about taking our time, making sure we don’t rush anything and have Jordan for the next 10 years, not just six months.
“Her enthusiasm and the performances she has had so far this season…she played 90 minutes and I watched her at Manchester United last week.
“That player we have become accustomed to and we missed at the World Cup has got back up to speed incredibly and that is testament to the work and dedication she put in when she was injured.”
Neville was speaking after returning from the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in Milan, where he was pipped to the women’s coach prize, while England full-back Lucy Bronze came third in the women’s player category.
Bronze was the only England representative in the women’s team of the year, but Neville believes a player like Nobbs can reach such levels now she is fit.
“I was proud that Lucy was up there,” he said.
“You look at Jill (Scott), Steph (Houghton) and Ellen White, they were really unlucky. We are getting more and more players in that category, so we are getting players up to that world-class level.
“Then there are players below that in the squad that we are now challenging to get to that level. Jordan Nobbs is coming back and can easily get to that level.”
United States World Cup-winning captain Megan Rapinoe was named best women’s player and used the platform to speak out about racism and homophobia within the sport, praising England winger Raheem Sterling for his stand against discrimination in her acceptance speech.
“I think the impressive thing, and it is something I agree with, is that it shouldn’t always be the person who has been affected who should come out and fight against racism, homophobia or any kind of insulting behaviour,” Neville said of Rapinoe’s speech.
“It is the people around them, people in the street, the stadiums and society who have to fight it as well.
“I think at the moment we are gathering a little bit of momentum but not enough and it is not just up to the individual affected and that is why I am so vocal about social media stuff, because obviously our players suffer from it and it is not just the person who suffers from it who should be fighting on his or her own.
“I think Megan’s character and personality is something I admire, she is not scared to stand up for what is right.
“It should be everybody, society should be fighting it together so when you get a platform like last night…it is a great platform to send really powerful messages.”
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