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Eni 'breathless' over France cruncher
 Women's Football News 24 Mar 2006
Eni 'breathless' over France cruncher - 24 Mar 2006 - Women's Football NewsEniola Aluko admits the thought of England's winner-takes-all World Cup qualifying match against group favourites France leaves her breathless.
A win would virtually guarantee England a ticket to the finals with four games to spare - and with only one place in China up for grabs, coming away with three points is critical.
And the 19 year-old Charlton striker, who has scored three goals in 16 games for England, believes it is the biggest game of the season.
"I really hope that we beat France because it is vital to us. It is a crucial game for World Cup qualification. It is so huge, even thinking about it makes me breathe heavily. It is absolutely massive."
Since Euro 2005 England are unbeaten in six matches and have won each of their World Cup qualifiers to date.
The match will see Arsenal Kelly Smith, England's top scorer with 15 goals, pick up her 50th cap. The Three Lions forward thinks their good run has raised expectations placed on the team.
Kelly said: "We started so well, we haven't lost within the group and I don't expect us to lose any more games from here on out.
"I think there's a certain level of desire and hunger in this team that I haven't actually seen before since I've been on the team, for about ten years now, everybody seems to be a lot more confident and working together and looking to get this top qualification spot that we all want and I want so bad.
"It's probably the last chance that I'll get to play in the World Cup being that I'm 27, getting over the hill now. It's always been a dream of mine to play in a World Cup."
Smith remains the only English player to have played in the Women's professional league in the US having spent eight years in the WLeague, and Sunday's game could pit her against her former New Jersey Wildcats team-mate, French striker Marinette Pichon.
She has suffered a long line of injuries including a year out of the game following a broken leg.
Aluko, who rates Smith as one of the best players in women's football, believes the Arsenal striker's 'never say die' spirit is an inspiration to young girls coming into the sport.
The Charlton striker added: "Kelly is known all around the world. She has been through trials and tribulations and come back stronger.
"Sometimes not everything goes right in your career and she has bounced back from her problems. You have to be strong to continue. She has been playing over in the States and is a regular for England.
"I have never had a serious injury, but not a lot of people realise what it is like not to be able to play football.
"You get really bad withdrawal symptoms when all your team-mates are out playing and you can't. To come back from a broken leg and play back at that level is fantastic. It is something to be inspired by."
Report in association with www.TheFA.com

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