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Rachel Unitt will be enjoying a special night on Thursday as she steps out to play for England against the Czech Republic at the Bescot Stadium in Walsall.
Walsall-born Rachel will be appearing at her local ground and she admitted to Women's Soccer Scene: "Playing at the Bescot is going to be a special one for me, as well as other local girls such as Karen Carney, Emily Westwood and Eniola Aluko. I was at the ground recently and the pitch there is looking nice, in fact it's a nice little stadium so hopefully we can get a few supporters there and get a great atmosphere."
And amongst the crowd will be several familiar faces to the England full back. "I've only got a small family but the majority of them are coming," she says, "and a lot of friends and old schoolfriends. My old PE teacher is bringing a coachload of kids to the game, so we should have quite a bit of support there!"
Rachel is anticipating a difficult test against her opponents but feels that things are looking very bright ahead of Euro 2005. "The spirit of the squad at the minute is fantastic and confidence is really high," she adds. "The Czech Republic is going to be a tough game, I've never played against them myself but I know they are a good side and only lost out to Italy in the play-offs (for Euro 2005)."
This will be the first England match since the 20-strong squad for the UEFA Championships was announced, and Rachel revealed that she was both delighted and relieved to be named among them, despite having been a regular in the team for the past five years. "There was always a doubt in my mind that I wasn't going but Hope Powell had a bit of a headache in picking her final 20. Now that I'm here, all I want to do is work my way into playing in the first eleven."
So what does Rachel think would be a successful Euro 2005 for England? "To win it," she replies straight away, "but we have got to take each game as it comes. First things first, we have to get out of the group - all three games are going to be really tough.
"We've played Denmark before and beaten them although they will be tough, but I think the hardest game we'll come up against is the Swedes. They are second in the world and in Europe, but if we go out and play the way we can I think we can beat anyone so who knows, we'll see.
"If we can against Finland, it will be a great thing for our confidence. It's one of the most important games, the first one, and if you win that it will set you up for the rest of the group."
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