PHIL NEVILLE admitted “someone had to suffer” after axing veteran forward Toni Duggan from his extended 28-player squad ahead of England’s friendly with Germany next week.
The Atletico Madrid winger, 29, is said to be gutted at the snub, having been one of Neville’s core players when he took over at the start of 2018.
Duggan played in all of the former Manchester United ace’s first 17 matches in when he took the top job.
But she has since struggled to cement a place in the national side in recent years amid her return from injury.
She last scored in an England shirt during World Cup qualifying in August 2018, and only managed two substitute appearances and one start at the SheBelieves Cup in March.
Since that tournament Neville admits his head has been turned by a number of the whizkids coming through the ranks.
He said: “I called her (Duggan) yesterday and she was obviously disappointed. That’s her mentality and her character. She is a winner.
“It’s one of the things that struck me straight away when I came into this job that there was a girl there who had that real winning mentality.
“Unfortunately, in this period, because the kick off in Spain was only two weeks ago and she has only had two games.
“She missed the last camp because of Covid restrictions and other players have been playing really well and have really upped their game.
“They have gone to a level that is really impressive and they have earned that right to come into the squad. Somebody has to suffer.
“What I will say is Toni is still a big part of what we want to do, she has always been a big part of what we want to do.
“But we are in a situation where the competition for places is as fierce as it has ever been.”
Youngsters Millie Turner, Esme Morgan, Niamh Charles and Ella Toone receive their second senior call-up having impressed Neville during last month’s training camp at St Georges Park.
The Lionesses boss added: “It is the start of a new journey. The pandemic period makes it feel like a fresh start and we have a new manager coming in in 12 months.
“There is an evolution. The next three years will be really exciting, the Olympics, then going into the Euros and the next World Cup.
“There are new players in the squad. Since September, we spoke about a fresh start and the start of a new journey and building something that is even more exciting that what we have had other the last five or ten years.
“I think in sport and life, you’ve got to keep evolving, we can’t just think about what we have achieved in the past, I want new things and I want to look forward to the next three years.
“The world has changed, women’s football has changed and I want us to embrace it and take that leap forward.”
England will play their first game since March when they head to Wiesbaden, Germany to face Europe’s top dogs on October 27.