​Chelsea forward Fran Kirby has warned that England's Lionesses need to continue to 'grow the women's game' before challenging for equal pay with their male counterparts.


The 25-year-old highlighted the World Cup in France this summer as a vital building block for the Lionesses to put a case forward for equal pay, as the USA's three-time world champions have. 

Fran Kirby

Phil Neville's side still have two friendly matches before attention switches to the World Cup this summer, but Kirby insisted that England have to win the competition in order to grow the women's game and eventually move on par with the men's teams.


"We need to grow the women's game, then you can talk about equal pay and everything else," Kirby said, quoted by the Daily Mail"Ultimately we are doing the same job as the men but I understand that we're not filling out stadiums. That makes it difficult to have that argument.


"As the women's game improves and progresses, then they're the conversations we can start to have. The [USWNT] are in dispute at the moment but they're selling out arenas, they've won the World Cup and have some of the best players in the world in their team. They're in a position to do that.


"We need to win the World Cup to have a leg to stand on in those situations, but if we keep selling out stadiums like we are, improving the game on and off the pitch, those arguments can start to creep in."


Kirby broke through with her hometown side Reading before being snapped up by Chelsea five years ago, earning her first senior call up with England around the same time.

She's gone on to establish herself as one of the standout players for club and country since moving to west London, being named as the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year and FWA Women's Player of the Year for the 2017/18 season.


Kirby was also part of the recent England squad which took part in the SheBelieves Cup in America, where the Lionesses finished ahead of the hosts to be crowned champions.