Janine Beckie will see plenty of familiar faces when she lines up for Canada against England in an international soccer friendly Friday in Manchester.
The Manchester City forward expects to see anywhere from one to nine of her club teammates wearing the Three Lions logo at Academy Stadium, which is home to the Man City women.
Beckie, born in the U.S. to Canadian parents, calls the Canada-England rivalry "a solid No. 2" behind the U.S. England is currently ranked third in the world, to No. 5 for Canada.
England knocked the Canadian women out of the 2015 World Cup with a 2-1 quarterfinal win in Vancouver. The teams have not met since.
"I don’t think that anyone views it as a friendly," Beckie said of Friday’s encounter. "I think it’s a must-win for both teams in their respective minds. … I think there’s a little bit of revenge on the line for a lot of girls on this roster. I don’t think that’s a bad thing to have in your pocket."
Looking to maximize the FIFA international window, Canada will leave for Spain after Friday’s match to face No. 38 Nigeria on Monday at Pinatar Stadium in Murcia.
"We have been looking for a strong African opponent ever since we drew Cameroon in the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup," Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said in a statement Thursday that announced the game. "This is a great opportunity for us to better understand the style and how to play around it."
Nigeria, 11-time African champions, have qualified for all eight editions of the Women’s World Cup.
Canada is 0-1-1 against the Nigerians. Their last meeting was at the 2011 World Cup in Germany where Nigeria won 1-0 in a meaningless pool game given both teams had already missed out on the advancing to the knockout round.
England moved up in the rankings after winning the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, defeating No. 7 Japan and No. 10 Brazil and tying the top-ranked Americans.
The Canadian women are 5-7-0 all-time against England, but have lost five of the last six meetings dating back to 2013. The lone victory during that stretch was a 1-0 decision in Hamilton before the 2015 World Cup.
Man City players in the current England squad are goalkeepers Karen Bardsley and Ellie Roebuck, defenders Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus and Demi Stokes, midfielders Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh and forward Nikita Parris.
And a former Canadian assistant coach will be on the sidelines. Bev Priestman, who helped develop some of Canada’s top youth players, left Canada’s ranks last August to return home and join England coach Phil Neville’s staff.
The Lioness head to Swindon next to host No. 13 Spain on Tuesday.
For Canada captain Christine Sinclair, the Manchester visit marks her first trip back to the city since 2012 when she scored a remarkable hat trick at Old Trafford in a painful 4-3 extra-time loss to the U.S. in the Olympic semifinals.
Academy Stadium is just 7.5 kilometres away from Old Trafford, the famed home of Manchester United.
"Definitely flying in it was like ‘Oh my gosh I haven’t been here since that game and that experience,"’ Sinclair recalled. "It’s amazing how time flies. You look at our team then and where we are now, it’s crazy to think of the past six or seven years.
"Hopefully we can make some more incredible memories in the blue side of Manchester, if you will."
Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Erin McLeod and Desiree Scott are the only members of the touring Canadian roster who played in the Olympic semifinal. The U.S. went on to win gold while Canada claimed bronze.
With 179 international goals to her credit, Sinclair is just five behind the world record of 184 held by retired American Abby Wambach.
The 24-year-old Beckie has 24 goals in 52 appearances.
Heiner-Moller used a 3-5-2 formation earlier this year at the Algarve Cup. Schmidt, normally a midfielder, dropped into the backline and Beckie and Ashley Lawrence were used as wingbacks.
Friday’s game may give a hint on whether Heiner-Moller is just expanding his team’s toolbox or is intent on making it his preferred shape.
Canada, England, Nigeria and Spain are all gearing up for the Women’s World Cup, which starts June 7 in France.
Canada, which will play a pre-tournament match against Mexico in Toronto on May 18, has been drawn with No. 46 Cameroon, No. 19 New Zealand and the eighth-ranked Netherlands at the World Cup.