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Women's Football News
England Under-17 kick off their qualification group for the inaugural UEFA Under-17 Women's Championship this Saturday, with Head Coach Lois Fidler admitting that this will be an exciting new experience for her players.
Forty teams are chasing 16 Second Qualifying Round places, which leads to a four-team final tournament next May. The winners, plus the six second placed teams with the best record against nations finishing first and third in their pools will progress to the second qualifying round in Spring.
With results dicatating whether her squad will progress to the latter stages of the competition - with the ultimate carrot being qualification for the 2008 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand - Lois will be monitoring her players' response.
Having won a six-nation tournament in Finland in May, as well as playing friendlies against Finland and Denmark earlier this year too, England's players will not be going into the qualifiers underprepared.
"In terms of player development, there is nothing better than tournament football," Lois told TheFA.com. "The majority of the players have played a number of games at this level already, but now that the games will carry points for results, we'll be looking to see whether they've taken certain lessons on board."
"How will the players respond to the coached environment, how will they cope being away from home? These are issues we look at closely as players all develop at different speeds. Some players are slow burners, whilst others peak and then hit a plateau at maybe 18 or 19, so we're monitoring a range of factors all the time."
The Eastern European trio of Georgia, Slovakia and Russia will face England, with Lois admitting that the former are somewhat unknown quantities. However, Russia were beaten 4-0 in the Easter Tournament, with goals from Toni Duggan, Sarah Wiltshire and Chelsea Weston.
England Under-17 squad:
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