Hope Powell's England continue preparations for Women's Euro 2005 with a home friendly against Italy.
England will kick-off their 2005 UEFA European Women's Championship preparations with an international against Italy on Thursday 17 February at Milton Keynes Dons FC.
It will be the first time that the National Hockey Stadium has hosted an international football match and England will be calling on the local community to support them in their warm-up campaign.
Both England and Italy have qualified for this summer’s UEFA European Women’s Championship, which will be held in the North West between 05-19 June 2005. This fixture represents the first of eight warm-up games that England will play as they fine-tune their preparations.
On 17 February, Hope Powell and her England squad will be looking for a morale boosting victory against Italy, a team that they could face in their Women's Euro 2005 Group A when the draw is made next Wednesday.
England National Coach Hope Powell OBE said: "Having not played a competitive fixture since the double-header against Holland in September, this game will be a big test for my team.
"We have held a series of training camps in the last four months and the Italy game will give the Coaching staff a chance to put our training into practice, against a team that is athletic and always full of tricks on the ball.
"Last time Italy beat us 1-0 in February 2003 when we had a very young squad. The majority of those players have now been together for two years so it will be very interesting to see how we have progressed since then, and hopefully a big crowd will come out to get behind the team."
Italy qualified for Women's Euro 2005 after they finished second in their group behind Sweden, defeating the Czech Republic 5-1 on aggregate in a two-legged play-off.
While the Azzurre has always reached at least the last eight, like England they have never lifted the European Championship crown.
With competition for places stronger than ever, England’s players will be looking to put on a positive display ahead of their Women's Euro 2005 opener on Sunday 05 June at the 48,000-capacity City of Manchester Stadium.
Pete Winkleman, Chairman of Milton Keynes Dons said: "We are delighted to be chosen to host this international fixture in such an important year for Hope Powell’s squad.
"The club supports football at all levels of the game and we believe that the continued growth and promotion of professional ladies football will widen the audience and increase the appeal to young girls.
"Indeed, we have recognised this at MK Dons where we have established four girls Centre of Excellence teams. This is an exciting and prestigious fixture will prove an inspiration to us all, as we look to see our girls teams go from strength to strength."
Tickets for the match are set to go on sale Saturday 15 January from the MK Dons FC ticket hotline on 01908 609 000.
Tickets are priced at £3 for adults/£1concessions in advance and £5/£2 on match day.
There are special discounts available for schools and football clubs, on application to MK Dons FC, details of which are available by calling 01908 209 455.