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Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 08:40 UK

Smith ready for Euro 2009 finals

by Paul Garrity

Sue Smith
Smith has regained a starting place in England's line-up

It has been a long four years for England winger Sue Smith as she and her England team-mates gear themselves for the Euro 2009 finals in Finland next week.

The Merseyside-born midfielder, who has 76 caps and 14 goals for her country, is set to start for Hope Powell's side when the Three Lions take on Italy in their first group game on Tuesday in Lahti.

Although four years ago it was a different story for the 29-year-old as she was left out of the squad for the European Championships in 2005, which took place in the North West of England.

Sue Smith
Smith received an honorary masters degree from Edge Hill University

But she has fought back from that setback and now looks to set Europe alight in what is one of the biggest occasions of her career to date.

"Obviously four years ago it was a massive disappointment and I think since then I've worked really hard," Smith told BBC Radio Merseyside. "I've been doing the training and doing the things I've been asked to do.

"It would be fantastic if I could start but just being in the squad is a massive achievement for myself. There have been some great players that have been left out and for me to just be here and experience it is excellent for for me.

"The next step is to start and to play as well as I can."

Not only has the Leeds Carnegie midfielder managed to get in the 22-player squad for Finland, she is also one on 17 players who have collected central contracts from the Football Association, which takes the pressure of work from the players to allow them to go part-time in their chosen profession.

Smith also recently collected an honorary masters degree from Edge Hill University in Liverpool last month and the women from Rainhill admits her side face Europe's elite with caution as well as wanting to continue their progress.

"I think what we're doing as a team is saying not to look too far ahead," she continued. "It's easy to get carried away as we have done really well in the last few games and we've beaten some great teams.

"The first game is Italy and we want to win that and then look to the next game. I think we're just trying to progress gradually without getting carried away and saying we'll get to the semi-finals or final.

"We just want to progress and just see what happens."

England start the competition against Italy in Lahti on Tuesday, with kick off at 1530 BST.



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