Former Premier League striker and United States international Brian McBride has suggested that England are one of just a handful of 'real contenders' to win the Women's World Cup in France this summer following strong results at the now concluded 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
Having shown excellent character to beat Brazil and then more than holding their own in a 2-2 draw against the hosts and world number one ranked United States, England's Lionesses thumped Japan 3-0 in their third game to lift the trophy for the first time.
A third place finish at the last World Cup, followed by reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2017 and now SheBelieves success has shown that England are firmly among the best on the planet.
"England have produced some great results this week, including the draw [against the US]," McBride said, speaking exclusively to us-bookies.com.
"They are up there with the US, and another four or five sides who are real contenders for the World Cup. Certainly England's one of them," the ex-Fulham hero added.
Phil Neville's side scored the most goals (seven) and conceded the fewest (three) in their three games, going unbeaten in the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in its four-year history.
It will give the squad, which could yet get stronger before the World Cup in France as other players left at home return to full fitness, a major boost ahead of the finals, not least because Japan are the strongest opponent in a group that also contains Scotland and Argentina.
But despite the setbacks encountered by the Americans over the last few days, McBride believes that the United States team will still be able to take positives from the SheBelieves Cup and make the necessary adjustments before the big one kicks off in France in June.
"The USA team will take positives from the SheBelieves Cup," he said.
"Playing against the top competition in the build-up to this summer's World Cup. This tournament is going to be hugely beneficial to the side and where Jill Ellis sees players fitting in. The ability to have these high level games when they mean something.
"I always take these tournaments very well, as these teams might end up facing each other in the semi-final or final at the World Cup."
The United States have never failed to at least reach the semi finals of the Women's World Cup, lifting the trophy three times (1991, 1999, 2015) at seven previous tournaments.
France and Germany will be among the other contenders this summer.