England's crucial World Cup play-off against Iceland next week is a massive game
England's crucial World Cup play-off against Iceland next week is a massive game for Vicky Exley, as reaching the Women's World Cup Final next year in China would be a 'dream come true' for the Doncaster Belles and England midfielder.
The 26-year-old midfielder, who has gained the nickname of 'Tricky', is an experienced international gaining 24 caps and has been with the Doncaster Belles for eight years.
She has achieved much in her career to date, including being a member of the England squad that played in the European Championships in Germany last year, but she knows that the World Cup is THE tournament that every player wants to play in.
"It would be fantastic, it would be a dream come true really for me. It is what you to achieve going to a World Cup," she told TheFA.com.
"We went to the European Championships and that was fantastic, but the World Cup is the one you want really. The Euros were in Germany last year and I would love to do that again but if it was the World Cup it would be even better."
Exley knows, however, that before she can start thinking of China, the Three Lions must negotiate two very tough play-off matches, the first of which is against Iceland next week.
The squad meets up this week and will fly to Reykjavik on Saturday for the first leg on Monday night before returning home for the second leg at Birmingham's St Andrews on Sunday.
But Exley is in positive mood about the prospect of facing Iceland. "It is not going to be easy but we can all cope with that. We are looking forward to it."
Iceland will be something of an unknown quantity to many of the girls but Exley has had some inside information from some of her Belles team-mates who have played in league football over there.
"I only know what the lasses who have been over there say. They say it is a good standard but we should have a fair chance of beating them. I think they are physical, but that will be good for us because we are quite physical as well so it should be a good battle."
And with such a tight contest predicted the smallest advantage could benefit either team and Exley feels that playing away first could give England a slight edge.
"I prefer to go away first and try and just contain them and then when we get them to St. Andrews we can just go for it."
The Belles midfielder, however, is quick to acknowledge that if England are to progress then they will have to play either France or Denmark in the play-off final at home first and then face a tricky away leg in the decider. But she remained upbeat and philosophical and believes that England are more than capable of making it through the two tough play-offs.
"If we do get through, though, then the legs are the other way round and we play at home first. We would have preferred it to be away first but even so we have just got to play well to grind a result out. I guess it doesn't matter if we are home or away, we've got to play well and if we do then we could make it."
In such an important match it is vital to have your big players available but England coach Hope Powell finds herself without her two main strikers. Kelly Smith is recovering from a serious knee injury, and that bombshell was shortly followed by the international retirement of the Arsenal striker Angela Banks.
Exley knows that they are going to be missed but was quick to talk up the young players, the likes of Amanda Barr and Jody Handley, who have come in and done well so far.
"You've got Kelly out and Angela Banks having a break. You know, these are probably the two most talented players in England. We are going to miss them so much but I think that some of the younger players have come in and done well."
Exley was also not forgetting her prolific team-mate at Belles, the experienced Karen Walker who has a great goalscoring ratio for her country - 78 caps with 38 goals - and is still doing it at 33.
Even without two of England's most prominent strikers in recent years, Exley's confidence is typical of the upbeat attitude that is flowing through the women's game at the moment and she knows that England are more than capable of joining the World's best in China next year.
When asked if the Three Lions can make it to the Finals, Exley responded buoyantly: "Yeah definitely! There is a good spirit in the team and we are playing well at the moment. Even though we lost to Nigeria in a friendly in July, we played well and all the players believe that we can do it."
With the second leg to be played at St Andrews on Sunday 22nd, England will require all the help they can get to make sure that they progress to the play-off final. And Exley knows how important the crowd will be in giving the Three Lions that extra advantage.
"It is a chance for us to get to the World Cup, so I'd like to say to the people of Birmingham come along and support us! We want you to push us along and try to get us there. "We haven't played in the Midlands for a while.
The last time was at West Bromwich and that was a decent crowd. Also with Birmingham Ladies doing so well that should boost the crowd." With the England squad meeting up this week for the most important games in many of their young careers to date, it is hoped that Exleys' dream does not turn into a nightmare. Ben Rice
Tickets for the home game against Iceland are now on sale from the Birmingham City ticket hotline 0121 772 0101. Entry will be priced at £3 for adults and £1 for children before the day, with prices going up to £5/£1 on matchday.
There will also be a special family ticket, priced at £5, for up to two adults and three children. Special group booking rates are available to clubs and schools wishing to attend the game. To request a booking form or for more information, please call 020 8563 9147.