By Glenn Lavery
The midfielder looks ahead to the Women's World Cup Qualifying campaign.
The England Women’s team will kick-off their World Cup Qualifying campaign against Malta in just over a week’s time and winger, Sue Smith, wants The Three Lions to build on their performance from this summer’s European Championship.
England reached their first European Final since 1984, losing 6-2 to Germany, but with a balanced blend of youth and experience, Smith believes they can continue making steady progress; should England qualify for the 2011 World Cup, which will be staged in Germany, it will be their fourth straight appearance in a major Finals.
“I think it speaks volumes of how far the England Women’s team has come that we were all really disappointed with losing that Final,” Smith said of the European Championship campaign.
“We had overcome everything that was put in our path during the Euros and we definitely deserved to get that far, we just didn’t do ourselves justice once we got there.
“But that experience will definitely stand us in good stead for this World Cup Qualifying campaign, because we now all know what is required and what it feels like to get to a major Final. We just have to make sure that we keep pushing on and keep improving.”
With 81 caps to her name, Smith is the most experienced member of Hope Powell’s current squad and with a number of younger players now making the step up to the Senior side, she articulated her desire to use that experience in the forthcoming campaign.
“I’ve played in a few qualifying tournaments now and I still enjoy every game,” she said. “The Euros were a terrific experience, but there’s something that extra bit special about the World Cup. If I can help England qualify again then that will be fantastic. It will be good for the younger girls to reach a World Cup as well, because they’re the future. And if any of them need advice with anything, they know they can come and speak to me or any of the more experienced players.”
Smith’s time with England has seen her travel all over the world to represent her country, but with next Sunday’s Qualifier taking place in Lancashire, she is looking forward to once again playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
“It’s great to be playing back in England,” she admitted. “I only live about 40 minutes away from Bloomfield Road so it’ll be nice for all my friends and family that travelled all the way to Finland to just jump in the car and watch a game in Blackpool. And after playing the last few games in the south of England, it’s nice to be playing a game up north. It should be a good homecoming for us.
“We have never played against Malta before, so they’re a bit of an unknown quantity, but we’ll do our homework in the build up to the game and Hope [Powell, the England Women’s Head Coach] will have us more than prepared.”
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