Hope Powell says England can compete with the best in the women's game
Hope Powell believes her side can feel confident going into next summer’s European Championship.
The England Women’s National Coach was in Gothenburg on Friday night for the Euro 2013 Finals draw, where the Three Lions were placed in Group C alongside France, Russia and Spain.
And although Powell acknowledges the tricky matches that lie ahead, she reckons England can now compete against the best teams in the world.
She said: "Whoever we got it was going to be tough and that has certainly proved the case.
"There are no easy games at international level anymore and we have three challenging games ahead of us.
"But if we go into this tournament with the right mindset, if we put in a lot of hard work, if we play how we know we can and if we relax and enjoy it then we have as good a chance as anybody else.
“We have nothing to fear."
England have played all three group opponents quite recently and have generally fared well.
A rapidly improving France did knock Powell’s girls out of the 2011 World Cup on penalties but a goal apiece from Steph Houghton and Jill Scott earned a creditable 2-2 in Paris last month.
Russia almost eliminated England from the group stage of Euro 2009 when they went 2-0 up inside the opening 22 minutes, but goals from Karen Carney, Eniola Aluko and a 40-yard volley from Kelly Smith snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
And a 2-2 draw away to Spain in June 2010 virtually sealed a spot in the play-offs for the following summer’s World Cup.
Powell reflected: "We have found France very difficult opposition over the years, but we can take a great deal of confidence from that 2-2 draw.
“The girls came off the pitch with real belief that they’re not that far off and that we can beat them.
She added: "We did well to come back from 2-0 down against Russia to win the game. I thought they were a very, very good side, though. It will be another tough encounter, they won’t be a pushover.
"And Spain are the only country to have taken qualifying points off of Germany in I don't know how long, so they are clearly an improving nation and they deserve a lot of respect.”
England qualified unbeaten for next summer’s showpiece and finished runners-up to Germany at Euro 2009.
They will begin their Euro campaign against the Spanish on 12 July, then it's Russia three days later, with the final group game coming against France on 18 July.
UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 Finals draw in full