Author Topic: England's Fay White and Kelly Smith set to defy injury and face Germany  (Read 887 times)

Offline Gooner

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England's two oldest players are determined to overcome cheek and knee problems to play in Thursday's European final

England's two most influential players, the captain, Faye White, and the striker Kelly Smith, are prepared to put their fragile bodies on the line when Hope Powell's team face Germany in Thursday evening's Euro 2009 final.

White, the Arsenal central defender, is willing to play while wearing a protective face mask, having fractured her cheekbone in last Thursday's quarter-final victory over Finland. Smith is carrying a knee injury that she sustained three months ago while playing for her American club, the Boston Breakers.

Both players have a long history of injuries. Smith, 30, has had foot, ankle and knee problems and a badly broken leg; White has suffered cruciate ligament damage in both knees and has had her nose broken four times. The 31-year-old said: "Pain's only temporary and I can take that – you don't get this far and wimp out." Smith said: "It's just a case of managing my knee problem through the tournament."

In a quiz among the squad last week, White and Smith were asked which one of them was nicknamed "Sicknote". Each gave the other as their answer. They were both correct. White has been out of action for almost three of the last seven years. After breaking her nose at the 2007 World Cup, she was operated on by Ian Hutchinson, the surgeon who in the same year operated on John Terry's fractured cheekbone before the England captain played in a face mask in a Champions League tie for Chelsea.

Last Friday, White having flown back to England, Hutchinson operated on her again, less than 24 hours after she had been injured. "When Ian saw me," said White," he joked, 'It's not good to see you.' 'The feeling's mutual,' I said, but it was reassuring to know that the surgeon who had sorted John Terry's face out was going to operate on me.

"Ian discharged me at midday on Saturday. He'd also organised for me to get 3D digital photos done for my face mask, so I had that done at 1pm and then jumped in a car and went straight to Stansted to fly back and join up with the team again. I watched the girls beat Holland in the semi-final on Sunday then trained on Monday morning, and although I felt a bit lethargic through lack of sleep it got my legs going and I felt OK."

Smith's training schedule is tailored to her fitness needs and to accommodate her frequent trips to the physios' room. "If it wasn't for the medics," she said, "I wouldn't be playing in this tournament. They work all the hours that God sends – after the semi-final they were manipulating my knee joint in the treatment room until midnight."

For both women this could be a last chance to play in the final of a major tournament. Both believe that England, after failing to beat Germany in their previous 18 meetings, can achieve a famous victory 25 years after the national team's only other final appearance, at the European Championship in Sweden in 1984.

"We haven't played at our best yet," said Smith, "but we're confident we can do that against Germany and there's nothing to fear."

"When we had a goalless draw against them at the World Cup," said White, "we had chances to win the game. They are the best but we won't be intimidated and if we play to our potential, we can beat them – we've not come this far to lose the final."