FOUR former Sunderland players are included in the England women’s squad for next month’s European Championship in Sweden.
Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Jordan Nobbs were all expected to get the call, and they are joined by Liverpool’s Lucy Bronze, who wins her first senior call-up – as does club colleague Gemma Bonner.
Manager Hope Powell said: “It is well documented that we have an issue with injured defenders, so Gemma and Lucy give us extra cover and both of them have done really well for Liverpool this season.
“More importantly they will get the experience of being in a senior tournament. They may be required to play, but if not they’ll have that experience for the future.”
England were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign, and are ranked fourth for Europe in the FIFA world rankings.
Powell hopes that momentum will continue into Sweden, where they will be in a group with Spain, Russia and France.
“A lot of players in this squad have appeared in major tournaments before and that experience will certainly serve them well in Sweden,” she said.
“We will need that experience because we are in a very tough group, but looking at the amount of caps this squad has amassed, I don’t think there is any reason for them to be fazed.
“It is about them performing and using their experience to help both themselves and the other players.”
Despite England’s fine qualifying campaign, Powell insists her team will have to raise their game again to progress to the quarter-finals.
“You go into major tournaments and the idea is you want to win it,” she continued.
“I am under no illusion, though; everybody else has the same agenda and we recognise that it’s going to be tough. The competition between teams is at a level it has never been before. The gap between ‘the best’ and ‘the rest’ is getting closer.”
England, who lost to Germany at the last senior European finals, will play two friendly matches before their opening match on July 12 against Spain, tackling world champions Japan at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on June 26 and then hosts Sweden in a friendly on July 4 in Uddevalla.
England Women Squad: Bardsley (Lincoln Ladies), Brown-Finnis (Everton), Chamberlain (Bristol Academy); Bassett (Birmingham), Bonner (Liverpool), Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Bronze (Liverpool), Houghton (Arsenal), A Scott (Arsenal), Stoney (Lincoln Ladies); Susi (Chelsea), Asante (Gothenburg), Carney (Birmingham), Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Moore (Birmingham), Nobbs (Arsenal), J Scott (Everton), Williams (Liverpool), Yankey (Arsenal); Aluko (Chelsea), Duggan (Everton), Smith (Arsenal), White (Arsenal).