Despite her players taking their exams prior to taking on France, Lois Fidler says they're ready.
UEFA Women's European U17 Championship
6pm (Local time), Tuesday 20 May 2008
International managers often lament the lack of time they get to spend with their players, and England Women's U17 Head Coach Lois Fidler is no different.
The Young Lions are in Morges [50km from Geneva] having reached the semi final of the inaugural UEFA Women's European U17 Championship and this evening take on their French counterparts for a place in Friday's final.
Fidler's squad have already qualified for FIFA's U17 World Cup later this year in New Zealand and their preparations for this evening have been far from straightforward.
With a squad of 15 and 16 year-olds, the past few days have seen some of Fidler's players being transported to Geneva to take their GCSE exams, with many taking tests on Monday morning.
Meanwhile delayed baggage affected a number of the squad, including Goalkeeping Coach Keith Rees, with boots and contact lenses amongst the necessities that only arrived last night.
"The last few days have been unconventional to say the least," Fidler told TheFA.com. "But I can't fault the players for the professionalism they've shown.
"Before this trip, I asked the girls taking exams if they wanted to be involved because their education is hugely important. But having got through two qualifying rounds to their credit they all wanted to be here.
"Some days the group has been split between those doing exams and others training, but as soon as the players are together, the only subject you hear being discussed is football, and the game against France."
Whilst France, Denmark and Germany all have a proven pedigree at youth level, the Young Lions are looking to emulate their U19 counterparts who reached their respective European Championship final last year.
"We are certainly the underdogs," continued Lois. "But the players work hard, listen to the staff, have analysed the three games from the last phase and deserve to be here.
"We've said all along that there is no better experience than playing in these games. We are led to believe that there could be a crowd of between 2-5,000 tomorrow, which would be the most that any of them have experienced.
"Dealing with a crowd - most of whom will be cheering on France - is another challenge, and the girls have to keep their focus.
"They've come a long way over the last twelve months but tonight is another test and one we're all relishing.."