The England Under 20s Women’s Football squad – who are just a month away from appearing in the U20 World Cup finals in France – spent 48 hours with the Royal Marines, hoping to benefit from the grit and determination exemplified by the Bootnecks…

Thirty-one players tackled the commandos’ fearsome endurance course, spent a night in the open and slithered and trudged through gunk in the River Exe estuary on the infamous mud run.

They followed in the footsteps of the England men’s team who were put through their paces by the Royal Marines at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, near Exeter.

The U20 women face a tough challenge if they want to lift the World Cup in France next month; they need to see off North Korea, Mexico and Brazil just to get out of their group.

“The experience has been incredible,” said head coach Mo Marley. “The girls are closer now than they’ve ever been, and we’re in a much better place as a result of this experience with the marines”.

Twenty-year-old midfielder and U20 captain Grace Fisk, who plays for Millwall, thanked the commandos for “an amazing few days that has made the squad hungry for success”.

Royal Marines Captain Olly Mason said the Young Lionesses were “an outstanding team with an incredible mindset – and we wish them every success in France.” He added: “There has been a positive change in the men’s senior team since their visit to the Commando Training Centre, and we look forward to maintaining a close relationship with the Football Association.”