Neville has been signed on a preliminary basis until after the World Cup in Sydney, and her current assistant at Thunder, Karen Greig is expected to follow her into the national set up.
Neville, 37, and Greig, 35, will remain with the reigning Superleague champions until the end of the season, as the Black and Yellows bid to win a second consecutive title.
It is both a massive boost and risk for England with the World Cup under five months away. Neville replaces Anna Mayes, who has been in the position since 2011.
The move comes following a largely disappointing year for England Netball with the world’s third-ranked side failing to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and they also lost a test Series in Jamaica during that time.
Manchester Thunder director, Debbie Hallas, said: “We are pleased and proud that Tracey Neville has been appointed as the interim England Netball coach. She has proved her calibre for the role and it is a natural move for her. All at Thunder wish Tracey and the England squad all the best in working toward the Netball World Cup in August and give our full support. Tracey will continue her role as Director of Netball at Manchester Thunder as normal until the end of the Netball Superleague season.”
If Neville is handed the England job on a permanent basis, she will not return to Manchester Thunder and a replacement will be appointed. She has been with Thunder for the past four years, after switching from fellow Superleague side Team Northumbria in 2011. Greig, who captained thunder to the Superleague title in 2012, took up the post as Neville’s assistant in 2013.
Tracey Neville said: “I am delighted and proud to be taking up this role with England. I am under no illusions that running Thunder and England side-by side for the next few months will be hard but I will do my very best for both. It will be a challenge. There is never a perfect time to take on a role like this but it is an opportunity I just could not miss! I want to go away and look at the whole England program and put staff in place that can bring out the best in those players. The players will need time to process this decision – some grace time and we will go from there. I will look at the whole coaching structure that is made available to me, ahead of the World Cup. I want to make sure I have the best players that will be able to put out a performance at the World Cup. At the very least I want a performance from the players, as the ones they have put out, especially at the Commonwealth Games, weren’t good enough for the talent of the players in the team.”
By Denise Evans