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Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 18:09 UK

Upbeat England target Euro glory

by Tony Leighton


England women set for Euro campaign

England are confident of mounting a serious challenge in the Women's European Championships, which start in Finland on Sunday.

Hope Powell's team has lost just once in their last 11 matches and won the Cyprus Cup in March.

Outside of friendlies they have had only one defeat in 20 games, which came against America at the 2007 World Cup.

European and World Champions Germany are favourites to retain their crown, with Italy and Sweden also backed.

According to striker Kelly Smith there is a quiet confidence that expectations can be met.

"We've got a squad that's definitely capable of getting to the final," insisted Smith ahead of Tuesday's opening group game against Italy.

"We're not going to get ahead of ourselves, though. We're in a tough group and right now our focus is entirely on the first match," added the 30 year-old.

Russia and Sweden will be England's other Group C opponents with the top two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.

It's nice that people are saying we're one of the teams that might win the tournament, but that brings a bit of pressure and we must handle that.
Hope Powell

"Italy are a technical side who play attractive football and Russia are physically very strong, but Sweden will be our biggest challenge," said England coach Powell.

The Swedes are ranked fourth in the world, five places above England who in turn sit four ahead of Italy and six above Russia.

"We'll be expected to beat Italy and Russia," added Powell, "but in every game we'll have to be absolutely prepared and play to our full potential.

"It's nice that people are saying we're one of the teams that might win the tournament, but that brings a bit of pressure and we must handle that.

"When you're in that position teams will raise their game against you, so we'll have to be mindful of that and not let our standards drop."

As Powell leads her squad through their final preparations there are injury concerns surrounding key players Smith and captain Faye White.


Both players have been carrying knee injuries. White is recovering from a ligament problem, while Smith has suffered several knocks in the professional American league.

"I'll be playing through a slight problem but I'm not too worried about it," admitted former Arsenal star Smith, who now players for Boston Breakers.

Powell said: "Faye and Kelly have come back from horrific injuries but they've both done well in the build-up to the tournament and we'll manage them accordingly."

If Arsenal central defender White does not make the starting line-up then Everton's Lindsay Johnson will take her place and the captain's armband will be worn by either Smith or Everton midfielder Fara Williams.

England squad: Brown (Everton), Chamberlain (Chelsea), Bardsley (New York Sky Blue), A. Scott (Boston Breakers), Stoney (Chelsea), Johnson (Everton), Asante (New York Sky Blue), White (Arsenal), Unitt (Everton), Bassett (Arsenal), Williams (Everton), Carney (Chicago Red Stars), Chapman (Arsenal), J. Scott (Everton), S. Smith (Leeds Carnegie), Westwood (Everton), Buet (Chelsea), Clarke (Leeds Carnegie), K. Smith (Boston Breakers), Aluko (St Louis Athletica), Handley (Everton), Sanderson (Chelsea).

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see also
Smith ready for Euro 2009 finals
21 Aug 09 |  Women
England drop Yankey for Euro 2009
04 Aug 09 |  Women
Everton women progress in Europe
04 Aug 09 |  Women
Everton set for Champions League
29 Jul 09 |  Women
England 1-0 Denmark
22 Jul 09 |  Women
England 0-2 Iceland
17 Jul 09 |  Women
England climb to ninth in world
07 Jul 09 |  Women
Powell may leave England position
04 Jun 09 |  Women
Draw sees England reach Euro 2009
02 Oct 08 |  Women

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