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Rachel Brown helped to promote the announcement of the venues for the UEFA Championships this week and the England goalkeeper is aware that the interest is going to build up over the next six months. "I can't wait, it's launched and it's going to snowball from there," she told Women's Soccer Scene. "There's going to be a lot more things, media wise, that we are going to take on board. Hopefully we'll promote the sport to as many people as we can, both nationally and internationally."
For Rachel, it would mean playing in her native Lancashire during the tournament, does that make it extra special for her? "Of course it does, yes," she smiles, "I'm very excited. Up until a couple of years ago, most of the fixtures were down in the south and in London because they've quite a good following down there. They brought a couple of games up north as a test run and they went really well - we got a lot of media exposure and the crowds were great."
A lifelong Burnley fan, Rachel is not worried about the prospect of playing at Ewood Park, the home of rivals Blackburn Rovers. "Er, well absolutely, yes!" she laughs when asked. "I'm not saying I am going to be converted to a Blackburn fan but pulling on an England shirt anywhere is a massive thrill. Being in Lancashire, it all counts, I'll just put that club name to the side!"
In the meantime, there is more for Rachel to be concerned about as she continues her comeback from a knee ligament injury last season whilst playing for her club Everton. "It's been eight and a half months since the operation, and I'm expecting to play for my club - at least in the reserves - in the next four weeks or so. Every time I set a date I seem to get jinxed and it gets put back again. I don't like to put a time limit on it, when it's ready it's ready. I'm very excited to be back, it's been a frustrating time."
Everton have had a great season so far, and Rachel is full of praise for her team mates. "We will have some big games coming up as the Championship is more open than it's been for a few good years. We are one of the teams that are contending for the title this year, which is fantastic. At the end of last year nobody would have thought we'd be in contention for it but we have signed a lot of good players and the team has gelled quite well and quite quickly, and challenging the top teams.
"I'm hoping to get back in the first team but there is competition for places, which mirrors the international team. Just to be involved again is a big boost for myself psychologically. The knee is not 100% yet but I'm getting there, it's helping me by getting involved with England. Being in full training is helping me in the right direction."
She was able to join up with the England training camp and feels that it has been a successful week in the North West. "It's gone really well, quite a big squad was picked this time. There is an excellent spirit in the team, everyone's giving 100% and there's a good feeling about it. A number of younger players have come in and done well, and it certainly bodes well for the Euros.
"There's competition but it's a healthy competition, people are certainly out to help the squad. We do have a good spirit - there are certainly things we need to work on, whether it be on a psychological or physical capacity. We have certain people working with us now to do with those issues and are giving us the best build up."
So what does Rachel feel would be a good tournament for England? "We know that the teams that are coming are the best in the world," she admits. "The two teams in the World Cup Final are going to be here so it's going to be a tough time for every team. When the groups are announced, I think we can make a better prediction then, but we just want to go out and do our best."
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