England Women's U23 boss Brent Hills says his squad are prepared for La Manga opener
England Under-23s v Sweden
Four Nations Tournament
2pm GMT, Thursday 28 February 2013
La Manga, Spain
by Glenn Lavery
Head Coach Brent Hills has been pleased with how his England Women’s Under-23 squad have prepared for their match against Sweden on Thursday.
The Young Lions are currently in La Manga for their annual crack at the Four Nations Tournament. After the Swedes, England will take on Norway and USA in quick succession.
Hills said: “Training has gone well so far. The weather has been good and everyone is fit which is all you can ask for going into your first game.
“Three games in five days is a very challenging schedule but it’s a fantastic grounding for the girls in terms of how to cope with tournament football.”
Alongside a number of seasoned Under-23 campaigners such as Chelsea Weston, Kerys Harrop and Michelle Hinnigan, Hills has called up uncapped trio Alex Greenwood, Millie Bright and Beth Donoghue to see how they fare at this level.
He explained: “It’s a bit of a mixed squad with a few younger players involved for the first time.
“[U19 Head Coach] Mo Marley thinks Millie, Beth and Alex are all talented players so we thought it would be a good idea to have a look at them in this environment.
“All the younger girls have worked hard, they have settled in well and tried to take on everything we have said so I’m pleased.”
And Hills believes England’s three opponents in La Manga will provide his side with a stern examination.
He added: “Sweden are going to be tough. They won the U19 Euros last season so that says it all.
“And from what I hear they have got a talented group with them this week so it is a game that should really test us.
“Every time we meet up I always remind the players that these matches are a chance for them to impress and prove they are able to cope with the demands of international football.
“If they are to make the next step it is up into the seniors, a route a lot of players have taken in recent seasons, the likes of Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs, who these girls will know well.
“There is a lot for these girls to aim for, be that earning a central contract, forcing their way into Hope [Powell]’s thinking ahead of the Euros or the World Cup in 2015.”
Squad in full
Ashley Baker, Mary Earps
Gemma Bonner, Lucy Bronze, Naomi Cole, Alex Greenwood, Kerys Harrop, Jasmine Matthews, Jemma Rose, Chelsea Weston
Remi Allen, Beth Donoghue*, Michelle Hinnigan, Kasia Lipka, Lucy Staniforth
Millie Bright, Danielle Carter, Isobel Christiansen.
* replaced Laura Coombs who withdrew from the squad through injury