After the disappointment of Euro 2005, Casey Stoney is dreaming of next year's World Cup.
England v Austria
World Cup Qualifier
7.45pm, Thursday 20 April
Charlton Athletic captain Casey Stoney has put behind her the disappointment of missing out on the action at last year’s European Women’s Championship finals to focus her sights on playing at the 2007 World Cup finals in China.
The versatile former Arsenal defender, who has appeared both at right back and in the centre of defence for club and country, was part of Hope Powell’s squad at the Women’s Euro 2005 here in England.
But she had to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench in each of the three group matches as England just failed to clinch a place in the semi-finals.
In the current campaign, however, Stoney has appeared in all seven of the national team’s games to date, starting in five of them including the last three World Cup qualifiers.
And as she looks ahead to this evening’s game against Austria, the 23 year-old defender is determined to not only hold down her place in the side but also to help England complete another victory on the road to China 2007.
"It’s great to have been in the starting line-up for the last few matches," she said, "but there’s no such thing as a guaranteed place and I know I’ve got to keep performing at my very best to stay in the side.
"It was fantastic to be part of the squad at Euro 2005, but it was extremely disappointing not to take part in any of the matches. There’s nothing like stepping out on to the pitch and playing games, especially in massive tournaments like the Euros.
"But I used my disappointment to spur me on to train harder, to play better and to show I’m worthy of a place in the England team.
"I feel that I’ve done okay in our games so far this season, but there’s no way I’ll ever get complacent about keeping my place or about going into matches against teams like Austria, who we are expected to beat but who are always capable of causing an upset.
"I started our away game against them on the subs’ bench so watched our uncomfortable start from the sidelines. It was only after they’d taken the lead that we got going, but it was a lesson for us and showed we can’t afford any lapses in concentration.
"After going on from there to put ourselves in a great position to qualify for next year’s finals, though, everybody in the squad is totally focused on seeing the job through and for me it would be a dream come true to play on the biggest stage in women’s football."
Tickets for the match are on sale from the Gillingham FC ticket office and ticket hotline - 01634 300000.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions.