National Coach Hope Powell OBE has worries over her whole squad going into the g
National Coach Hope Powell OBE has worries over her whole squad going into the game versus Italy tonight. A bout of flu is spreading through the remaining 22-strong squad and Charlton Athletic midfielder Alexa Hunn has been sent home to recuperate.
Powell has seen Sammy Britton (personal commitments) pull out of the squad and Kristy Moore, after arriving for the meet-up with a thigh injury, was sent home on Thursday evening. Doncaster Belles winger Karen Burke is the only replacement called up.
Powell has injury worries over Fulham pair Rachel Yankey (knee) and Rachel Unitt (groin) as well as Charlton midfielder Fara Williams (back).
Also missing will be long-term absentees Faye White (cruciate ligament) and Katie Chapamn (pregnancy). After recently returning to training after an ACL tear, Kelly Smith is staying in America for pre-season training with her WUSA pro team Philadelphia Charge.
There are several players in the squad who have yet to pull on an England senior shirt, so with the injury situation Powell may use the match as an opportunity to award some new caps.
Here Powell talks to TheFA.com about her hopes for the match...
How are the preparations going for the game?
We have had a bout of flu going around the camp and we had to send Alexa Hunn home at the weekend to stop the illness spreading. A few players arrived for the meet-up on Thursday night with niggly injuries.
Will you use this international to blood new players?
I hope so, although it depends on the state of play in the game. It is more than likely that Leanne Champ and Carly Hunt will start the game, while Rachel Brown will probably start in goal. We'll also have the chance to bring in a few of the youngsters later in the game without disturbing the team too much. It is necessary that we have friendly fixtures to have a chance to look at new players. I'm not saying that results don't matter in our upcoming friendlies, but as a whole we are now looking to Euro 2005 and giving players experience is very important.
What excites you about the players coming through?
The good thing about the youngsters is that they have had international experience and some of them have had experience on the world stage with the Under-19s. Carmaine Walker is an exception. I had her in a squad a few years ago to look at her and now she has played her way back into the frame. She has always been a good technical player without question, but just needs to work at her game and in La Manga she showed us a good attitude. The young players see it as a great opportunity to be involved with England and that combined with the older players' experience bodes well.
Are you talking about Euro 2005 already with the players?
Yes, it's in the speech and the players already know that they are playing for places. We are missing key players out here and we are hoping they will come back into the frame, so the message is that everybody is playing and training just to be here. We are trying to give everyone a fair go with 2005 in mind and I'm sure they'll grab that chance.
How hard is it to forget about missing out on the World Cup and to move on?
The players were on such a high going through the whole process of the World Cup qualifiers and the play-offs with France. The players were down because we went so far and then lost out at the last stage. To some it can feel almost like a comedown, although I'm sure they wouldn't admit to feeling down. But for the younger players it's different - it's new and they want to be part of Euro 2005.
What do you expect from the Italian team?
They are rebuilding and this is a massive fixture for them - their players are playing for places too. They have a young, fit and talented team and they have gone full circle; they are replacing the old players with new blood. That is the same situation we have been going through for the past two years by bringing in players who will be around for a long time. This will be an important game for them just before they start work on their European Championship qualifiers.
Last meeting: Italy 4-1 England
Stadium: Lugo, nr Bologna - attendance 300
Goalscorers: Italy - Carta (20, 28), Panico (35, 55). England - Walker (90)
England: Rachel Brown (sub 46 mins Sarah Reed), Faye White, Becky Easton, Marieanne Spacey (sub 46 mins Justine Lorton), Maureen Marley (sub 82 mins Julie Fletcher), Gill Coultard (c), Karen Burke, Sammy Britton (sub 75 mins Danielle Murphy), Karen Walker, Sue Smith, Rachel Yankey (sub 55 mins Angela Banks). Subs not used: Angela Willoughby, Kelly Shimmin
Italy: Giorgia Brenzan, Tessa Manuela (sub 75 mins Alessandra Pallotti), Anna Duo, Elisa Miniati, Daniela Tavalazzi (sub 65 mins Roberta Stefanelli), Luisa Marchio, Tatian Zorri (sub 46 mins Damiana Deiana), Federica D'Astolfo (sub 46 mins Patrizia Sberti), Patrizia Panico, Antonella Carta (sub 60 mins Silvia Fiorini), Silvia Tagliacarne. Subs not used: Fabian Comin, Paola Zanni, Silvia Fiorini
Pre-match and full-time updates will be available on TheFA.com, as well as post-match reaction.
NEXT SENIOR INTERNATIONAL
USA v England
Saturday May 17th, 12.00noon Kick-off
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Live on ESPN