Striker Kelly Smith is back in the England Women's squad for their international
Striker Kelly Smith is back in the England Women's squad for their international away against world champions USA next month.Philadelphia Charge striker Smith is the only English player in the world's first professional women's football league, WUSA and has recently made her playing comeback after a long-term injury. Kelly tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her knee last June while playing in the USA for Philadelphia.
She missed England's vitally important World Cup play-offs, where England bowed out at the last stage to France meaning they missed qualification to September 2003's FIFA World Cup.
National Women's Coach Hope Powell OBE has named a 22-player squad for the internationals against USA and a double series with Canada in mid-May.
England travel to Alabama on Monday May 12th to meet Mia Hamm's world champs on Saturday May 17th, as they prepare to defend their title at the World Cup later this year.
England last met USA in the 2002 friendly tournament the Algarve Cup, losing 2-0, although both sides had regular players missing. It has been six years since an England side last played on US soil, losing 5-0 and 6-0 in a double series.
The USA game will be staged at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, at 12.00 noon local time. The game will be shown live on ESPN.
England will then travel north to play Canada in a double series on May 19th and 22nd. The first match will be staged on Queen Victoria celebration day in Hamilton, Ontario. The second game will be held at the Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa, Ontario, at 7.00pm local time.
England have only played Canada once at senior level, winning 3-2 at the 1995 World Cup, when Hope Powell played. That game was played in Helsingborg, Sweden, so this will be the first time that the sides have met on Canadian soil.
The England U19 side played their Canadian counterparts in the inaugural FIFA Under-19 World Championship in August 2002. In front of 24,000 fans at the Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, England went down 2-6 in the quarter-finals; Canada went on to lose the Final to the USA by a golden goal.
Four of the players who played in that match for the Under-19s have made the senior squad for these three internationals. Goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne, pictured, defenders Leanne Champ and Laura Bassett will have the experience of having played against a Canadian side, while striker Ellen Maggs scored against their U19 side at the start of the season.
England have played just one international so far this year, a 0-1 defeat in Italy, after losing out to France in their UEFA play-offs for the 2003 World Cup Finals. Canada qualified for the Finals alongside USA by way of a tournament in September 2002.
Canada went down 6-1 to the USA in a friendly international at the weekend.
Squad in full: Pauline COPE - Charlton Athletic, Rachel BROWN - Everton, Toni-Anne WAYNE - Southampton Saints, Kirsty PEALLING - Arsenal, Leanne CHAMP - Arsenal, Casey STONEY - Charlton Athletic, Mary PHILLIP - Fulham, Rachel UNITT - Fulham, Rachel McARTHUR - Fulham, Laura BASSETT - Birmingham City, Jody HANDLEY - Doncaster Belles, Kristy MOORE - Fulham, Samantha BRITTON - Everton, Kelly McDOUGALL - Everton, Vicky EXLEY - Doncaster Belles, Kelly SMITH - Philadelphia Charge, Rachel YANKEY - Fulham, Sue SMITH - Leeds United, Ellen MAGGS - Arsenal, Karen WALKER - Doncaster Belles, Carmaine WALKER - Charlton Athletic, Amanda BARR - Charlton Athletic TheFA.com will have full previews and match reports from the Americas tour. By Bev Ward