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Friday, 8 December, 2000, 12:31 GMT
Smith is England gem
Sue Smith
Smith has starred down the left for England
By BBC Sport's Sue Thearle

Among the more pressing concerns for Sven Goran Eriksson when he finally joins up with England is qualifying for the World Cup, restoring confidence in the national game and finding naturally left-footed players.

That's not really a problem for Hope Powell. She has more left-footed players than she knows what to do with.

Tranmere Rovers winger Sue Smith is certainly the jewel in the crown. The 21-year-old midfielder is one of of five left-sided players in the England squad.

"It's funny isn't it," Smith chuckled. "There are hardly any natural left footers in the men's squad, yet we've got loads in our squad and quite a few at Tranmere too."

Smith took a little time out from her preparations for this weekend's league match against Millwall Lionesses to talk about Tranmere, England and that Daz advert.

You know - the one where Julian Clary quizes Tranmere Ladies on their whites.


You've got to believe that you can do something when you get to a finals like this and we'll certainly be better prepared than ever before
  Sue Smith on England's Euro hopes
"It was great fun actually. The girls really loved it. It was a long day and involved a lot of hanging around but Julian Clary was a scream.

"He was such a naturally funny and witty guy and kept everyone laughing.

"But we've had some terrible stick about it. The week after we had to go to Southampton and as soon as we walked through the door they were asking whether our colours had run...... and that's all we've heard ever since."

Smith is a bubbly character - the kind of player every dressing room needs.

And she's made her mark with England too. She made one of the goals in the 2-1 win in Ukraine and scored in the home leg at Brisbane Road - albeit with the assistance of the Ukranian keeper.

"It's taken us a bit of time to sink in," she confessed. "I remember waking up the day after the second leg and I was still buzzing because of the result the night before. We can't wait for the finals but we do know that we don't go there as favourites.

Inconsistent

"Just getting there was a real achievement for us but now we do need to build on that. And football's a funny thing - you never know what's going to happen. You've got to believe that you can do something when you get to a finals like this and we'll certainly be better prepared than ever before."

Before next summer Smith will be focused on the task of helping her beloved Tranmere to success - with the FA Cup her main target.

The Merseyside club are fourth in the Premier League - already twelve points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

"We've been a little bit inconsistent this season. We've had a few games cancelled because of the weather which hasn't helped - but we seem to beat a top team one week and then lose games we should win. It drives us all mad and we are really working at it.

" But the Cup is our best hope of success this season."

In the longer term the aim is to close the gap on the likes of Arsenal and Doncaster Belles - a goal shared by Merseyside neighbours Everton and Liverpool who are also rivals in the Premier League.

"Merseyside is buzzing at the moment. In the past when we got together with England the bulk of the players used to come from southern clubs.

But now the split is very much 50/50 between the north and the south and the northern influence is growing.

"I think the development in this part of the world has really improved and girls are joing clubs all the time. But the next step is to really challenge Arsenal and Doncaster. We've got to close the gap to stay competitive and I think we've got the talent here to do it."

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