Defender Lucy Bronze says England can erase the heartache of four years ago by beating Japan to top their World Cup group (England 1/4 to top Group D).

In 2015, England reached the semi-finals but were knocked out in an agonising 2-1 defeat after a late own goal from Laura Bassett sent Japan through to the final.

Four years on under the guidance of former England defender Phil Neville (pictured), the Lionesses have had a solid if unspectacular start to the World Cup, beating Scotland 2-1 and grinding out a 1-0 win against Argentina.

Like England, Japan are expected to feature in the latter stages of the tournament but have also stuttered after only drawing 1-1 with Argentina and then scraping past Scotland 2-1 (Japan 25/1 to win World Cup).

Neville’s team know the significance of a win as not only would three points give them a big confidence boost, it would also set them up for a kinder round-of-16 game.

Topping Group D would guarantee that England would face the best third-placed team from either Group B, E or F.

A draw would be enough to top the group as well, but if Japan win then England finishing second means they would face the winner of Group E – either the Netherlands or Canada.

Bronze, 27, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s fixture, says the squad now have the experience to cope with tougher opponents following their campaign in Canada four years ago (Japan 3/1, draw 21/20, England Evens – Match Odds).

“Back then it was so new to us, even getting to that semi-final was huge,” said Bronze. “Maybe we weren’t quite ready to reach the World Cup final. Now we are more prepared.

“We’ve played Japan since [2015], beat them, and beat them well. You do remember the disappointment but ultimately it just drives you towards the next thing.”

Odds subject to change.