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Offline Rach_83

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England in shape for winning run
« on: August 14, 2009, 11:45:21 AM »
England in shape for winning run

Friday 14 August 2009
by Paul Woloszyn & Paul Saffer from London

England fell at the group stage as UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ hosts but four years on midfielder Fara Williams and left-back Casey Stoney are aiming for better in Finland.

Quarter-final run
Four years ago England made a great start, beating Finland 3-2, but lost narrowly to Denmark and Sweden to finish bottom of their pool. Having reached the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-finals, Hope Powell's side would be disappointed not to match that run in Finland, and Everton LFC captain Williams believes they are ready to do so.

"Playing in 2005 in England in the EURO was massive for us, at the time everybody thought we could do well and I think that we were living a bit in a dream world at the time," Williams told "The experience from the EURO in 2005 and the World Cup in 2007 is massive for us this year and I think that we have a chance this year in Finland."

"We are really glad it is nearly upon us" -Casey Stoney

Since qualifying last October, England have had a series of training camps, winning the Cyprus Women's Cup in March and beating both Norway and Denmark in home friendlies. But Stoney is relieved the kick-off against Italy on 25 August, with Group C fixtures to come against Russia and Sweden, is almost here. "We are really glad it is nearly upon us," the Chelsea LFC defender, who also managed the club last season, said, "Preparation has been long and hard. We had a little break, we only had two weeks off from the end of the season."

Williams has already returned to competitive action, helping Everton through from the UEFA Women's Champions League qualifying round earlier this month. But for her there is nothing like a final tournament. "It's massive," the 25-year-old said. "You learn playing against other better players. You learn by feeling you are doing the game good and learn by feeling you're doing badly. If don't you analyse yourself and you don't analyse the team, you never will improve. Hope insisted that we have to analyse perfomances to get better and I think before 2005 we didn't use to do that much. But since then I think every single game we played, we have analysed it as a team, Hope has analysed it, we've analysed it as individuals and that helped our understanding."

Central contracts

Something else that has helped much of the England squad is being placed on central contracts, which guarantee players enough of an income for them not have to do another job full-time. Stoney, 27, was among those awarded the deals in May and is already benefitting. "Being on a central contract makes a huge difference to my life," she said. "I've gone part time at work now. I can train in normal hours and not at five in the morning or nine at night after work when you are tired. The quality of my training has increased. I feel that my fitness level has increased, it means that my quality of life is better, my training standards are higher, and hopefully I can be in the best condition I can be."