Wolves midfielder Emily Westwood can’t wait to be involved in the England training camp at the Lilleshall next week.
Wolves midfielder Emily Westwood was shocked to receive her first senior international call-up – but she can’t wait to be involved in the England training camp at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre next week.
Westwood, who has distinguished herself at both youth and Under-21 international levels, will meet up with the rest of the 28-player squad on Sunday evening following Wolves’ Northern Division match at Middlesbrough.
The 20 year-old Wolves captain, who has also skippered the national Under-21 side, is the only England-based player in the training camp squad who operates outside the top flight of the FA Nationwide Women’s Premier League.
So it’s perhaps understandable that the youngster, a student at the FA’s Loughborough University-based National Player Development Centre, is a little apprehensive about rubbing shoulders with England’s top women’s footballers.
"I was really shocked when I was told about my call-up," she admitted, "and at first I felt nervous and a bit scared about going into a training camp where I’d have the very best players in the country around me.
"Because I play in the Northern Division I don’t come across these players week-in, week-out at club level so I don’t really know many of them, although there are a couple, Amanda Barr and Laura Bassett, who are at Loughborough with me.
"It was through Amanda and Laura, in fact, that I found out I’d been selected for the seniors’ training camp. They’d seen the squad before me and offered their congratulations – and I said, ‘congratulations – what for?’
"It was after they’d explained that the shock and initial nervousness hit me, but once the news had sunk in I was absolutely delighted and now I really am looking forward to being involved next week."
Westwood’s call-up is reward for some fine England Under-21 performances following her recovery from a cruciate ligament injury that had sidelined her from just after the 2002 Under-19 World Cup finals until the closing stages of last season.
Now she may have the chance, even though she is playing her club football below the top flight, to force her way into the thoughts of Hope Powell as the National Coach ponders her squad selection for the 2005 UEFA European Championship finals.
Next week’s training camp is aimed specifically at the build-up towards Euro 2005, to be played in England next June, and Powell selected the Wolves player after seeing her in action for the Under-21’s in the recent 1-0 win against Sweden.
"I enjoyed the game against Sweden and felt I did okay," said Westwood. "After the game Hope Powell had a chat with me and asked how I was doing after my injury, but she never suggested I might soon be involved in the senior set-up.
"It’s a daunting prospect but I aim to grab my chance with both hands. There’s just the possibility that I could be involved at Euro 2005, but if not I won’t be too disappointed because there’s a lot of top quality players ahead of me at the moment.
"What I have to do is keep my consistency going for the Under-21’s and for Wolves too. We’re only Northern Division at the moment, but we have a chance of getting promoted this season and I’d love to be part of that.
"I had the chance to sign for a National Division club in the summer but, after only just coming back from my ACL injury, I felt it would be too much to step up to the top flight so soon.
"So far I feel my decision has been justified, especially with this selection for the seniors’ training camp. But I hope to be playing in the National Division next season – as captain of Wolves!"