Sophie Bradley says England will not take Croatia lightly in final Euro 2013 qualifier
England v Croatia
UEFA Women's Euro 2013
Group 6 qualifier
5pm, Wednesday 19 September 2012
Banks's Stadium, Walsall FC
Live on BBC Two
Tickets - £5 for adults, £2.50 for U16s and over 65s. U12s are free with an accompanying adult
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Sophie Bradley insists England will not be complacent when they take on Croatia on Wednesday.
Hope Powell’s side won 6-0 the last time the two sides met and another victory would seal a place at next summer’s European Championship.
However, the centre back refuses to take anything for granted.
Bradley said: “We can’t be complacent, especially because we dropped points against Serbia [in the opening Euro 2013 qualifier].
“We were 2-0 up then and we should have won. It just goes to show that you always have to be on top of your game and you can’t switch off for a minute.
“I think we have already learned our lesson because after beating Holland [in June] we could have switched off against Slovenia [four days later] and just assumed we’d pick up the win. But we went out there, made sure we all did our jobs and got another important result.”
One more victory would clinch a spot at Sweden 2013 which would be England’s fourth straight appearance at a European Championship Finals.
They finished runners-up to perennial champions Germany in 2009 before a quarter-final appearance at the 2011 World Cup, in which they defeated eventual winners Japan in the group stage, and Bradley believes the Three Lions now belong among the world’s elite.
She added: “We have qualified for the last few tournaments and people now realise that England should be competing against the best teams in the world. We have been doing well but we want to get better and better.
“Playing in major tournaments is what footballers live for, certainly in the women’s game. You get such a buzz when you’re at a World Cup or a European Championship and we want to experience that again.
“Hopefully we can get three points against Croatia and then we can look forward to next year.”
Bradley has missed just one game in this qualifying campaign, ironically against Croatia, and, still only 22, she has already become a key player for her country. She has developed a sound understanding with Casey Stoney for both Lincoln and England but admits she is still learning the game.
Bradley said: “This campaign has all been a bit of a new experience for me because before the Serbia game I had never had a long run in the team.
“I was in the senior squad for a while before I made my debut but things have developed really quickly for me.
“I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to play for England and to have stepped up to become a regular member of the team at such a young age.
“I’m happy with how I have been playing but I always walk off the pitch knowing I could have done better. With Hope picking me I guess it shows that I’m doing something right but I know I can always improve.”
Squad in full
Karen Bardsley (Linköping), Rachel Brown (Everton), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Carly Telford (Chelsea).
Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Dunia Susi (Chelsea).
Anita Asante (Göteborg), Jess Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton), Fara Williams (Everton), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal).
Eniola Aluko (Birmingham City), Toni Duggan (Everton), Kelly Smith* (Arsenal), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City).
* withdrew through injury