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  Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
England in Euro swing
Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith (right) is England's main injury worry
BBC Sport Online's women's football correspondent Tony Leighton reports from Germany

No-one can say the eighth Women's European Championship finals failed to get off to a colourful start.

Dancing children waved giant flags, oompah music was mixed somewhat incongruously with Status Quo records, and England's footballers performed an impromptu conga in the Erfurt Stadium.

Coach Hope Powell and her squad were at the ground to watch the tournament's opening match between the host nation and Sweden.

Both figure in the same first-round group as England and their first opponents Russia.

The England staff and players cannot fail to have been impressed by reigning champions Germany.

They powered their way to a 3-1 victory after starting sluggishly and going behind to Hanna Ljungberg's 14th minute opener.


The players are psyched up and ready to go, and we are looking for a good result against Russia to start us off on the right foot
England coach
Hope Powell
Claudia Muller equalised three minutes before half-time then put the increasingly dominant Germans ahead 10 minutes into the second period.

From that point a home victory looked a certainty and Maren Meinert put the issue beyond doubt with the final goal 12 minutes from time.

As the large German contingent in an excellent crowd of 10,250 celebrated victory, the England players were whisked away.

Ankle pain

They were driven 35 miles east for a training session at the Carl Zeiss Jena Stadium, where on Sunday they kick off their Euro 2001 campaign.

Against a scenic back-drop of the craggy, tree filled Kernberge hills, Powell and her coaching staff put the players through their paces.

Concerns over the fitness of key striker Kelly Smith rose again as she pulled up with ankle pain.

It has troubled her since joining up with the squad from her American club Philadelphia Charge a week ago.

Powell may wait until the last minute before deciding whether or not to field the striker in the starting line-up against the Russians.

As they finished their final pre-tournament training session she said: "Kelly has tweaked her ankle again but we think she should be OK.

"We'll just have to wait and see how she is after treatment.

"She has a very professional attitude and if she feels there could be the slightest problem she will pull out of the side."

Powell's thoughts are obviously focused on Sunday's game against a team who came through their qualifying group with a 100% record.

Beneficial

Last month they look impressive as they held Germany to a 1-1 friendly draw.

But she will nevertheless also be thinking ahead to Wednesday's match against Sweden and next Saturday's meeting with reigning European champions Germany.

She said: "I enjoyed this afternoon's game and felt it gave our players a beneficial first-hand look at Sweden and Germany before we have to play them.

"They are two of the best teams in the world and we are under no illusions about the challenge we shall be facing in both games.

"But the players are psyched up and ready to go, and we are looking for a good result against Russia to start us off on the right foot.

"They will be confident after winning their group so convincingly, but we've come to these finals on the back of five successive wins and our confidence and morale are also very high."


Final

Semi-finals

Group A

Group B

Tournament news

Background features

Finals focus

ENGLAND SQUAD
Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories

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