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Relishing the challenge!
 Women's Football News 20 May 2008
International football managers often lament the lack of time they get to spend with their players, and Lois Fidler is no different.
England's Under-17s are in Morges [50km from Geneva] having reached the semi final of the inaugural UEFA Under-17 Women's Championship and this evening take on their French counterparts for a place in Friday's final.
Fidler's squad have already qualified for FIFA's Under-17 World Cup later this year in New Zealand and their preparations for this evening have been far from straightforward.
With a squad of 15 and 16-year-olds, the past few days have seen some of Fidler's players transported to Geneva to take their GCSE exams, a trip that will again be replicated this morning.
Meanwhile, delayed baggage from London's latest airport terminal affected a number of the squad, including Goalkeeping Coach Keith Rees, with boots and contact lenses amongst the necessities that only arrived last night.
"The last few days have been unconventional to say the least," England's Head Coach told TheFA.com, "but I can't fault the players for the professionalism they've shown.
"Before this trip, I asked the girls taking exams if they wanted to be involved as their education is hugely important, but having got through two qualifying rounds, to their credit they all wanted to be here.
"Some days the group has been split between those doing exams and others training, but as soon as the players are together, the only subject you hear discussed is football, and the game against France."
Whilst France, Denmark and Germany all have a proven pedigree at youth international level, the young Lions are looking to emulate their Under-19 counterparts who reached their respective UEFA age group final last year.
"We are certainly the underdogs," continued Lois, "but the players work hard, listen to the staff, have analysed the three games from the last phase, and deserve to be here.
"We've said all along that there is no better experience than playing in these games. We are led to believe that there could be a crowd of between 2-5,000 tomorrow, which would be the most that any of them have experienced.
"Dealing with a crowd - most of whom will be cheering on France - is another challenge, and the girls have to keep their focus.
"They've come a long way over the last twelve months but tonight is another test and one we're all relishing."

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