In her fortnightly column England star Casey Stoney talks exclusively to TheFA.c
In her fortnightly column England star Casey Stoney talks exclusively to TheFA.com about the national teams recent tour of North America and Canada and her plans for the summer...
Hello everybody, I hope you are well and getting used to having no football to watch, but don't forget that TheFA.com has the guide to the Close Season every day. It has been a hectic time for me since my last column having just returned from a three game tour of North America and Canada with the England National team. It was a really good experience, obviously a bit disappointing for all of us because we lost the three games (lost to the USA 6-0, and then two 4-0 defeats against Canada) and we didn't score any goals but they are the best two teams in the world so it was a great experience to compete against the likes of them.
We can be positive though because for thirty minutes against America we had more possession than them but unfortunately once they scored a few heads went down. But the tour was great for the players who hadn't played many times for England, they got invaluable experience. Players like Laura Bassett and Carmaine Walker played a couple of games which was great for them.
I think that the main differences between the Americans and us were that their fitness levels are really high. Our fitness levels have improved immensely over the last couple of years but theirs are still so high and you can tell that they are full-time professionals. There was no great flair in their team, they haven't really got a Fara Williams or a Kelly Smith, but everything is done simply, quickly and effectively. They also know where the goal is, they were clinical.
The Canadians were physically very strong and they knew where the goal was as well. We had chances against Canada to score in both games but we didn't finish and you don't win games if you don't take your chances. However, it was fantastic to play against them and to know where we have to set our standards. We are definitely closing the gap and all our girls will continue working really hard on their fitness and technique. It was brilliant to show that we can compete against them in certain aspects but we have to keep closing that gap.
I had a great time though. I had been to Canada once before to coach but never to America. They are mad about football and sport, so when we played against the USA they were going Mia Hamm mad. She had to stay for an hour after the game signing autographs. I managed to get her shirt which was a bit of a result, so that is a great souvenir!
But it wasn't all football, football, football. We managed to go shopping and had a trip to the cinema, but unfortunately where we went shopping wasn't the best. I went to see the new Jim Carrey film, Bruce Almighty, which was quite funny, and some of the girls went to see the Matrix Reloaded. All in all in was a great trip. To be able to train for that amount of time together and then play against the best was fantastic and we now know the benchmark.
But now I am straight back into it. I have had a week and a half off but I have just returned to the Women's National Player Development Centre, based at Loughborough University, for my second year. We started pre-season training on Monday so that is my summer break over already!!
Well that's it for now, I'll be back again in two weeks time.
Casey was speaking to Ben Rice