SCOTLAND women’s coach Shelley Kerr is preparing for a difficult but exciting first game when her side make their World Cup debut in France next summer after being drawn in the same group as England, Japan and Argentina in Group D.

“It’s a very, very tough first game, and a very tough second game [against Japan],” Kerr conceded. “But when you’re a manager you want to compete on the world stage. That’s what football’s all about. I’m really excited about playing the best teams in a World Cup.”

Football’s oldest rivals also met in a group opener at Euro 2017, but both were under different management with Mark Sampson’s side running out easy 6-0 winners in Utrecht. Now, however, they have the chance to avenge that defeat.

Scotland and Manchester City defender Jen Beattie is looking forward to it.

“I think it just probably adds to the excitement even more now that we know who’s in our group," she said. "England again in the opening game of the tournament, only our second tournament ever.”

England boss Phil Neville believes Scotland are a much-improved side under Kerr – and expects a hard game against them in Nice on June 9.

“It will be a special occasion against our nearest rivals,” he said. “I watched Scotland play USA [in Paisley last month] and thought they were fantastic.”

Scotland lost that game by just 1-0, confirming the advances they have made under Kerr, who replaced Anna Signeul after the Euros.

“It will be a top-class game of football and we’ll have to be at our very best and reach a level we’ve probably not produced before while I’ve been manager,” Neville continued. “You go back to that game at the Euros and Scotland are a totally different outfit. They’ve got confidence, they’ve got experience and they’ve got a really good system. They also have a fantastic manager.”