Iceland to provide crucial test
Thursday, 16 July, 2009
England players look to secure their places for Euro 2009 in friendly.
You can follow all of tonight's action on TheFA.com and our minute by minute coverage.
Hope Powell’s England team take on Iceland tonight in their penultimate match before setting off for the UEFA European Women’s Championship in Finland.
The Head Coach’s 30-woman squad will enter into this evening’s game – and next week’s fixture against Demark – knowing this is their final opportunity to impress and secure a berth in the final 22-woman squad that will be making the trip to Finland.
“I think the players appreciate that it’s the final chance for them to be seen before the main selection but the approach will be the same. Giving players an opportunity to play and perform and then selection will be made from there,” said Powell.
“It will be a really hard decision in terms of who will be selected because the squad of players that we currently have are all on an even keel almost. Players are a little bit nervous about selection but for me it’s a good position to be in.”
Casey Stoney, a stalwart of Powell’s squad in recent years, also believes England are currently in a strong position, with a change in the structure of the women’s game proving beneficial to international players.
“We’re all centrally contracted now so it means we’ve been able to go part-time at work, so the training we’re able to do now is of much better quality because we’re not tired from a full day’s work. So I’d say preparation is going as good, if not better than it ever has done for me.”
“I think with the central contracts now in place we’ve got the best chance we’ve ever had because our preparation can now be on football, not necessarily work and football. Our time isn’t divided as much so we can prepare to the best of our ability and I think that’s going to give us a great chance to go as far as we can in the competition.
“We’ve got the potential, we’ve now got the backing, and now we just need to take it to the next step.”
First, however, Stoney and her team-mates will need to produce two positive performances against Iceland and Denmark.
Both nations have also qualified for the Euro Championship and should provide a stern test for Powell’s side. However, with home advantage, England will be looking to send out a message to their fellow competitors.
Click on the video player above to watch Hope Powell and Casey Stoney speak ahead of tonight's clash.