Lions raring to go
Monday, 10 September, 2012
England Women's U17s are all set for Monday night's opening Euro qualifier
by Glenn Lavery
Lois Fidler says her England Women’s U17 team are champing at the bit ahead of Monday evening’s opening Euro qualifier in Belfast.
The Young Lionesses will open up their campaign against Northern Ireland and ten of her 18-strong squad appeared in last season’s 2-1 victory over the same opponents.
They will then face Israel on Wednesday before rounding things off against Italy on Saturday with the top-placed nation in the group guaranteed of progressing to the final stage of qualifying which will take place next spring.
Fidler declared: "We are ready and raring to go.
"This is the hardest group we've had at this stage for a whole but we have prepared well.
"We want to get off to a positive start. We know how important it is to start well in these qualifiers and that's exactly what we'll be hoping to do against Northern Ireland.”
As well as the players who featured at this stage last year are five who make the step up from the U15s and the Head Coach says the squad have blended well.
She added: "The squad has come together well. We have a lot of players who were here last year and the younger girls have settled in, too.
“The jump between U15s and U17s is a big one - as it is from U17s to U19s and U19s to Under-23s - but the aim is to give these players as much opportunity as possible to play international tournament football.
“We'd obviously like that to include Finals matches, but that is what we are here to try and move a step closer to this week.”
Before they flew to Belfast, the U17s became the first England Women’s team to enjoy the facilities at St. George’s Park, The FA’s new National Football Centre and Frances Steele and Katie Zelem became the first two England players to sign their names on a special wall – something a representative of every England team will have to do eventually.
Fidler said: "The girls made the most of the experience.
“The facilities really are excellent. We will be playing on 3G pitches during these qualifiers so we trained on the indoor pitch at St. George's Park so the girls could get used to the surface.
“Let’s hope it pays off.”