THE Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, with eight members of Phil Neville’s England squad having been born and raised in either the North-East or North Yorkshire. Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson profiles our region’s stars hoping to achieve World Cup glory in France.

CARLY TELFORD
Position
: Goalkeeper
Hometown: Jesmond
Age: 31

The Northern Echo:

One of the senior members of the squad, Telford is battling with Karen Bardsley and Mary Earps for the goalkeeping spot in England’s World Cup opener against Scotland in Sunday.

A Geordie, Telford attended Tanfield School and Gateshead College before she was picked up by Sunderland while still a teenager.

She spent five years with Sunderland, but left the club after they were relegated from the top-flight of the English game in 2007.

She has played for Leeds United and Notts County, as well as having a brief spell in Australia with Perth Glory, and is currently in her second spell with Chelsea, having re-joined the club in 2017.

Having been the only England squad member not to play a single minute of the last World Cup in Canada, Telford will be especially keen to get onto the field in France.

LUCY BRONZE
Position
: Right-back
Hometown: Berwick-upon-Tweed
Age: 27

The Northern Echo:

Widely acknowledged as one of the best defenders in world football, Bronze is one of the stars of the England team and is set to be a key performer in France.

Having been born in Berwick, Bronze spent some of her childhood living on Holy Island before settling in Alnwick, where she attended The Duchess’ Community High School.

She played for boys’ teams until the age of 12, at which point FA rules prevented her from continuing in mixed-sex games, and she joined Sunderland’s senior squad at the age of 16 in 2007.

She helped Sunderland win promotion from the Northern Division to the National Division, and won the Player of the Match award in the 2009 Women’s FA Cup final as the Lady Black Cats suffered a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal.

Her career has subsequently taken her to Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City, and since joining French side Lyon in 2017, she has won successive UEFA Women’s Champions League winners’ medals.

RACHEL DALY
Position
: Defence/Midfield
Hometown: Harrogate
Age: 27

The Northern Echo:

The most positionally versatile member of the England squad, Daly is Neville’s utility option as she played in every position from right-back to centre-forward during her senior career.

Having been born in Harrogate, Daly began playing football with Killinghall Nomads, a boys’ team in North Yorkshire.

“It became clear quite early on that I was better than a lot of the boys, so they’d be jealous and would tackle me even harder, but that just toughened me up,” she said in a recent interview.

She was eventually picked up by Leeds United and also played for Lincoln Ladies before emigrating to the United States in 2011 when she embarked on a sports scholarship at New York’s St John University.

She broke goalscoring records playing for St Johns’ college team, Red Storm, and signed for Houston Storm in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. She has spent the last three seasons playing for Houston, and boasts 22 senior England caps.

STEPH HOUGHTON
Position
: Centre-half
Hometown: South Hetton
Age: 31

The Northern Echo:

Having won 104 international caps, Houghton is the skipper and talisman of the England team. She made her international debut in 2007 and is preparing for her third appearance at the World Cup finals.

A proud native of South Hetton, she joined Sunderland in 2002 and spent much of her time with her hometown club playing as a forward.

She helped Sunderland win promotion from the Northern Division in 2006 and was named FA Young Player of the Year the following season, even though the Lady Black Cats were relegated.

She spent six years playing for Leeds and Arsenal, before joining Manchester City in 2014. Her time at the Etihad Campus has been extremely successful, with a league title and two FA Cup winners’ medals coming her way.

One of Houghton’s greatest days came during the 2012 Olympics, when she scored a winner against Brazil at Wembley. Her life was turned upside down last autumn when her boyfriend, former Liverpool and Bradford City full-back Stephen Darby, was diagnosed with motor-neurone disease.

DEMI STOKES
Position
: Left-back
Hometown: South Shields
Age: 27

The Northern Echo:

Stokes was born in Dudley in the Midlands, but spent her childhood in South Shields and was enrolled into Sunderland’s academy at the age of eight.

She made her debut in Sunderland’s first team at the age of 16, by which time she was studying at Gateshead College, and was part of the team that won the Northern Division title in 2009 and played in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.

She left Sunderland in 2011, signing a four-year sports scholarship at the University of South Florida, and played 13 games for Vancouver Whitecaps in the North American W-League.

An offer from Manchester City enabled her to return to England in 2015, and she has subsequently developed into a proven performer on both the club and international stage, winning 50 senior caps.

She was controversially left out of the squad for the last World Cup, but was one of England’s stand-out performers at Euro 2017 and has timed her return from injury perfectly to push for a place in the starting line-up this weekend.

JILL SCOTT
Position
: Centre midfield
Hometown: Sunderland
Age: 32

The Northern Echo:

Like her fellow Wearsider, Steph Houghton, Scott is one of the senior members of Phil Neville’s squad, having made her full England debut in August 2006.

Born and bred in Sunderland, she attended Monkwearmouth Comprehensive and was a keen runner in her youth, winning the North of England Under-13 Cross-Country title as well as the Junior Great North Run.

She started playing football with Boldon Girls, and joined Sunderland in 2004 at the age of 17, immediately slotting into the first team.

She spent two seasons with her hometown club, but moved on to Everton in 2006 and spent seven successful seasons playing on Merseyside. She moved on again to Manchester City in 2013 and has been a key figure at the Etihad Campus for the last six years.

A box-to-box central midfielder, Scott’s energy and astute passing are integral to Neville’s preferred style of play, and she is a certain starter in England’s World Cup games.

LUCY STANIFORTH
Position
: Central midfield
Hometown: York
Age: 26

The Northern Echo:

Staniforth only made her international debut last September, but her performances in this year’s SheBelieves Cup helped England triumph in the United States and secured her place in the World Cup squad.

Born in York, the 26-year-old hails from a footballing family as her father, Gordon Staniforth, played for a host of clubs including York City, Hull City and Carlisle United. Her older brother, Tom, was a talented player with Sheffield Wednesday who tragically died in 2001 at the age of just 20.

Lucy played youth football with Blyth Town Ladies before joining Sunderland in 2007. She made her senior debut with the Lady Black Cats at the age of 16 and helped the club win promotion from the Northern Division during her first full season in the senior ranks.

She left Sunderland in 2010 to join Notts County and has also played for Bristol Academy and Liverpool. She re-joined Sunderland in 2016, but left again to move to Birmingham City after her North-East employers were controversially axed from the top-flight of the WSL.

She is likely to be used as an impact substitute in France, with Neville no doubt hoping she reproduces her goalscoring heroics from the SheBelieves Cup final against Japan.

BETH MEAD
Position
: Centre-forward
Hometown: Whitby
Age: 24

The Northern Echo:

As one of the younger members of the England squad in France, Mead has burst on to the senior international scene in the last couple of seasons.

Born in Whitby, Mead grew up in Hinderwell, a small village on the edge of the North York Moors, and joined Middlesbrough’s centre of excellence at the age of ten.

Her ability was immediately apparent, and she moved on to Sunderland at the age of 16, making an immediate impact in the Women’s Super League.

She scored 77 goals in 78 appearances for Sunderland, but opted to move on when the Wearsiders were denied a top-flight WSL licence, joining Arsenal in 2017.

Her time at Arsenal has seen her flit between centre-forward and winger, and her attacking versatility could make her a potent asset from the bench in France, where she will be hoping to add to her 18 international appearances.