Faye White is relishing the prospect of facing Arsenal team-mate Julie Fleeting on the international stage.
England captain Faye White will be facing up to an auld enemy she knows only too well in the upcoming women’s international, in the form of Arsenal team-mate and Scotland captain, Julie Fleeting. On April 21st, the two club-mates will come face-to-face at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park as England continue their Women's Euro 2005 preparations against Scotland, just six weeks before their tournament opener against Finland at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The last time the two countries met in a Nationwide Women’s International, England emerged 5-0 victors at Preston in November 2003, with White scoring a brace.
"I have very fond memories of that game", said Faye, "as it was my first full game back after being out injured for twelve months. One of my goals was a sweet left foot volley which is very unusual for me, but most importantly, the game showed the first early signs of our progress as a unit."
The victory started a sequence of results for England that has seen only two defeats in their last twelve internationals, a morale-boosting run that has featured a 4-1 victory over fellow Women's Euro 2005 finalists Italy in February, and three wins and a draw in the Algarve Cup in March.
Confidence amongst a squad with an average age of 23 is now building ahead of the tournament in June, but a test against Julie Fleeting, one of the most predatory strikers in women’s football, is keeping Faye focused.
"Julie is a phenomenal player and her record of 92 goals in 81 internationals tells its own story.
"In the Euro’s there will be some fantastic European strikers, not least Sweden’s Hannah Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson, Germany’s Birgit Prinz and France’s Marinette Pichon, so to come up against quality players at this stage of our preparation is just the type of challenge we need."
Whilst England’s fortunes have taken an upturn since the last time the two countries met, Scotland failed to qualify for Women's Euro 2005 after being in the same group as reigning World and European Champions Germany and missing out on a play-off place by a single point to the Czech Republic.
The emergence of young talent characterises the progress of the Scottish squad too, and with a new Head Coach in former Swedish Youth coach, Anna Signeul, Julie Fleeting is excited about the future, and the imminent challenge of England.
"The last time we played against England was a huge disappointment", said Julie. "We didn’t play well and let ourselves down, so in a fortnight’s time we’ll have a real point to prove to show we’re a better side than we were then."
On a chilly evening in November 2003, a crowd of over 6,500 saw the last Auld Enemy clash, and both Faye and Julie are hoping that football fans from across the region come out in force at Prenton Park to get behind the two teams.
To those who have never seen a Women’s international before, the last words go to England captain Faye White.
"Supporters will see a passing game, a lot of skill, plenty of commitment and with the quality of players on both sides, there should be goals. As the profile of women’s football continues to increase, more and more football fans are coming to watch us for the first time and coming back to see us again.
"With the 2005 UEFA European Women’s Championship being played in the North West between 5-19 June, it would be great if fans of all ages and football clubs get behind the England team and cheer us on. It will be the biggest women’s tournament ever held in this country, and our final preparations begin in earnest on 21 April at Tranmere Rovers."
Tickets for the match are on sale now from the Tranmere Rovers FC ticket office or by calling the ticket hotline on 0870 460 3332.
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 Tranmere Rovers FC, details of which are available by calling 0870 460 3332.
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