Author Topic: England Coach Hope Powell on her Squad for Euro 2009  (Read 694 times)

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England Coach Hope Powell on her Squad for Euro 2009
« on: August 11, 2009, 12:42:45 PM »
By: Tony Leighton

Euro 2009 is fast approaching and England coach Hope Powell, having named her 22-player squad for the tournament which kicks off in Finland on 23 August, has been discussing her selection dilemmas, the teams England will be up against and her hopes for what will be her fourth major tournament as National Coach.

Q. How difficult was the squad selection process?

A. To select the final 22 was difficult. We’ve tried to get two players to fill every position and what’s been nice since we qualified is that competition for places has been fierce, to the point where the players get very fragile. The last training camp was quite tense, which I expected, then when you call the players (to tell them they’re selected) it’s relief – and that’s nice because it shows a respect for other players.

Q. The omission of Rachel Yankey, the country’s most-capped current international, was a surprise. What led you to that decision?

A. Rachel hasn’t played well in the last 12 months. Application, attitude, performance – that’s what it’s all about and what a player can offer the squad. Other players have performed better and so warranted a place more.

Q. On the opposite end of the experience scale you have three young players – Dani Buet, Jess Clarke and Karen Bardsley – who between them have got only eight caps. Are they involved for experience as ‘ones for the future,’ in the way that you selected Karen Carney and Eni Aluko as 17 year-olds for Euro 2005?

A. Now and again you come across a very exceptional talent, and I think Karen Carney was an exceptional talent who had to play (at Euro 2005). Some people thought I was crazy, but she’s really progressed and developed. Dan and Jess have both come through the system and both have something to offer. They’re a little bit raw, but sometimes that’s a good thing. We’ve been monitoring Karen Bardsley for a while and we’ve got good reports from her (American) club. She was an Under-19 European Championship player who went a little bit off the boil, but now she’s a full-time player who has developed physically and whose sheer presence is enormous. She definitely brings a bit more security to the goalkeeping department.

Q. Bardsley is one of six players in your squad who this summer have been playing in America’s Women’s Professional Soccer league. Will their status as full-time pro’s help the England squad?

A. Being a full-time athlete, whatever your discipline is, it’s going to help you improve. They (the six England players) have really excelled – I was over in the States during the summer and spoke to some of their coaches and they all spoke very highly of the English players. They’ve enhanced the qualities they already had. Unfortunately it’s something (full-time pro status) that at the moment we can’t offer them. You want our best talent to stay in this country and help develop our game, but any young player wanting to be a full-time athlete, you can’t question that. They’re training every day, and playing against the best players in the world will certainly develop them as players – and in that respect it’s a good thing for us.

Q. One of the America-based players, Kelly Smith, has suffered with a knee injury for a while and due to a similar problem captain Faye White has hardly played for the last 12 months. You have selected both players – was that a gamble?

A. Kelly is on track and she feels good, although she will always get a bit of stiffness in the knee. We have to be mindful of her and Faye, but Faye’s sheer presence and the fact that she always gives 110 per cent is important – those are the sort of players you want. It’s a gamble and Faye knows it because I’ve said exactly the same thing to her, but it’s a gamble I’m prepared to take. I know she won’t let me down – she’ll do her very best and if she breaks down, that’s why we have a squad of 22.

Q. This will be your fourth major tournament as England coach and you will in fact be the most experienced coach at Euro 2009. Has it become easier over the years, drawing on your experience from each successive tournament, to first select a squad and then to manage tournament pressure?

A. I think so. I know what I’m looking for – although I always ask the staff to pick their 22 and that’s a bit of fun! I feel that I’ve become more skilled in covering all the bases. I know what I want, and although I’m not always going to get it I’d like to think that the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years have certainly helped. I think the experiences you have along the way help you manage situations better, so hopefully I can use my experiences to the team’s benefit.

Q. The Euro finals are just around the corner and as you complete your own team’s preparations you’ll also be assessing your group opponents, Italy, Russia and Sweden – how do you rate each of those teams?

A. Italy are a technical side who play nice, attractive football, Russia are a physical, quite rigid side but Sweden are the team that everybody’s looking at after doing really well in recent months. They’re the clear favourites to get out of the group, but we have to respect all the teams we are up against and make sure our preparations are such that we give ourselves the best possible chance of doing well.

Q. What are your hopes and aims for the tournament, especially after reaching the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals, winning the Cyprus Cup in February and now preparing to head for Finland having lost only once in your last 11 outings?

A. It’s always great to win a tournament, even though the Cyprus Cup isn’t a major competition. But it showed that we can manage the demands of tournament play quite well, and the manner in which we won it was good. To beat Canada (in the final) quite convincingly was very encouraging after they beat us 4-0 in back-to-back games the last time we played them. It made the players appreciate that we can play a bit, and although we might not win every time we’ve certainly developed a winning attitude and that’s a good thing going into a major tournament. As for having a good run, well we had a really good run before Euro 2005 but then – as I keep reminding the players – we finished bottom of the group. So it will be the old cliché of taking each game as it comes and our first focus will be to get out of the group – we are not going to get ahead of ourselves.

England squad: Brown (Everton), Chamberlain (Chelsea), Bardsley (New York Sky Blue), A. Scott (Boston Breakers), Stoney (Chelsea), Johnson (Everton), Asante (New York Sky Blue), White (Arsenal), Unitt (Everton), Bassett (Arsenal), Williams (Everton), Carney (Chicago Red Stars), Chapman (Arsenal), J. Scott (Everton), S. Smith (Leeds Carnegie), Westwood (Everton), Buet (Chelsea), Clarke (Leeds Carnegie), K. Smith (Boston Breakers), Aluko (St Louis Athletica), Handley (Everton), Sanderson (Chelsea).

You have had a week to digest the squad and think over the various selections. Do you think Hope Powell and her back room staff have got it right?

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