by Jamie Whitehead
England Ladies manager Hope Powell has today announced the final twenty-three players that will head to Sweden to contest the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 Championships in Sweden.
The competition kicks off on July 10th and sees England pitted in Group C alongside France, Russia and Spain.
The Lionesses will be looking to build on their recent Cyprus Cup win as well as building on the disappointment of the Euro ’09 final, which saw them defeated 6-2 by Germany in Helsinki.
The squad announcement took place at the British Museum in London and has seen Powell select a mix of both youth and experience. Rachel Yankey, who holds 125 caps for the national team regains her place after being dropped in 2009 and the squad marks and opportunity for Arsenal captain Steph Houghton to play in the Euros after she missed the 2009 tournament through injury.
Jordan Nobbs’ inclusion caps off a successful year for the Arsenal midfielder which has seen her cement her place in the club’s first eleven as well as scoring her first goal for England in the Cyprus Cup. Everton’s Toni Duggan leads the line alongside Eniola Aluko, Kelly Smith and Ellen White.
Although it’s a strong squad, England will have many obstacles to overcome should they return from the tournament victorious. Any side looking to win the competition will have to beat Germany at some point. The Germans are a highly successful unit, having won six of the last seven competitions. In addition to this, VFB Wolfsburg are the current holders of the Women’s Champions League, having beaten overwhelming favourites Lyon 1-0 in the final at Stamford Bridge last month.
The competition sees twelve teams split into three groups of four, with the top two from each group going into the knockout round joined by the two best placed third placed finishers. The final takes place on July 28th
at Stockholm’s 50,000 capacity Friends Arena.
Following the announcement of the squad, captain Casey Stoney said
“It’s great to have such strength in depth in this squad. We’ve got a very difficult group.” Defenders Claire Rafferty and Rachel Unitt miss out on the tournament due to injury, which is obviously a blow to the squad but Manager Hope Powell remained unconcerned; “It is well documented that we have an issue with injured defenders, so Gemma and Lucy give us extra cover. Both have done extremely well for Liverpool this season”
England have two friendly matches prior to the tournament beginning against Japan on June 26th in Burton-upon-Trent and then play hosts Sweden on July 4th. Eight days later England’s road to Stockholm begins as they take on Spain in Linkoping. The WSL is currently taking a break whilst Powell prepares the players for the tournament and will resume in August.
For readers in the UK, all of England’s games will be screened live on the BBC with the Red Button carrying the rest of the fixtures.
The full squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Lincoln LFC), Rachel Brown (Everton LFC), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy WFC).
Defenders: Laura Bassett (Birmingham City LFC), Gemma Bonner (Liverpool LFC), Sophie Bradley (Lincoln LFC), Lucy Bronze (Liverpool LFC), Stephanie Houghton (Arsenal LFC), Alex Scott (Arsenal LFC), Casey Stoney (Lincoln LFC), Dunia Susi (Chelsea LFC).
Midfielders: Anita Asante (Göteborg FC), Karen Carney (Birmingham City LFC), Jessica Clarke (Lincoln LFC), Jade Moore (Birmingham City LFC), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal LFC), Jill Scott (Everton LFC), Fara Williams (Liverpool LFC), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal LFC).
Forwards: Eniola Aluko (Chelsea LFC), Toni Duggan (Everton LFC), Kelly Smith (Arsenal LFC), Ellen White (Arsenal LFC).
Jamie Whitehead is a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service.