Lions ready for the French
Saturday, 20 October, 2012
Hope Powell says her England side are aiming to sign off 2012 in style
Hope Powell admits her players are relishing the prospect of facing France in their final game of 2012.
England’s Women are in Paris for a friendly against Bruno Bini’s improving side and Powell believes her squad are ready to round off another successful year for the Three Lions.
She said: “The players are really looking forward to it.
“They recognise the challenge and they are excited to be coming up against a team like France.
“There’s no pressure around it, but this is a big game for us.”
In September, England qualified automatically for Euro 2013. They went through their group campaign unbeaten, ultimately sealing a place at their fifth consecutive major tournament by beating Croatia 3-0 in Walsall.
Their closest group rivals were Holland, who they held to a goalless draw in Zwolle before beating them 1-0 in June.
But France, who knocked England out of last year's World Cup, are expected to offer an even sterner examination and England’s National Coach welcomes the challenge.
Powell added: “They are top quality opposition. They have risen quite rapidly of late and are now one of the leading nations in Europe.
“It will be very, very testing and we have really got to be on top of our game. The result is immaterial but hopefully we will perform well.
“It has been a long campaign but this will give us a really good indicator of where we are and how much work we need to do before the Euros.”
Powell will be without the services of four original squad members due to injury. On Friday, Jess Clarke became the third player to be ruled out with a knee injury, behind Claire Rafferty and Rachel Brown.
Kelly Smith will also miss the game after feeling some tightness in her groin on Wednesday.
Powell said: “Unfortunately we have had to send some players home with injuries but I will look to give some other players time on the pitch and see how they cope against this sort of calibre of opposition.”