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A chance for the younger players...
 Women's Football News 12 Nov 2008
A chance for the younger players... - 12 Nov 2008 - Women's Football NewsAfter a number of away games, we are finally getting a chance to play on Welsh soil with our two friendlies against Finland this week. It will be a really good test for us against a team in the European Championships and everyone is looking forward to the challenge of facing them.
We had a really good result against Luxembourg in our last game but this will be a test for us to see how far we have come. Unfortunately we have a few injuries and a few absentees for both games due to people not being to get time off from work etc but we've still got a strong squad. Finland will be a good side and it will be tough but it will also be good for us to see how far we have to go and what we need to do for the World Cup qualifiers next year.
I don't have too much experience of Scandinavian sides but I played against Finland a few years back for the under-19s and they are very direct and more physical than a lot of other European teams, so it will be really good to play against them as the players we have that play in the Premier League will be used to that week in week out, so I don't think it will be too much of a problem and might actually suit us.
I am looking forward to playing two games in quick succession but I'm not sure that my body is! We have got a big squad here though so I think the manager may use a squad rotation to get the best out of the side for both games.
It was a great win for us in Luxembourg and we played really well. In the first half they made the pitch really small, which is difficult for the way we play, but when we realised they were doing that and dragged them out, it was good to see the goals go in. It was great for Helen Lander to get a goal on her debut and we were brimming with confidence.
It was nice for me to score one of the goals, particularly as I missed a great chance in the first half - in fact I nearly missed for the goal as well! It was my first for a while, when I was put back into a holding role I didn't get too many chances so it was nice to score on going into a more attacking role, and maybe prove a point!
There are new players in the squad for the games, players who have obviously been doing well for our younger sides and I think it's important to bring them through so they can see that it you do your job and play well, you can get a call up. Even if they don't win a cap this time, hopefully they can take this experience into the under-19s and make them a stronger side.
The atmosphere around the squad is good and very relaxed. There are a few characters in the squad, Sally Wade for example is a bit of a joker and it is good when we get together - no pressure, no stress so I think that works to our advantage.
Having said that, when I joined up with squad I felt like a different person as I don't know some of the players, and I feel really old! You see the youngsters, doing kids stuff, and you think "Oh my God I'm old, I'm a Grandma" - but it's fine, I'm happy with being a Grandma! But it does add a bit of extra responsibility, when I first joined up and went to training camps I looked up to some of the older players, who are still here. You try to learn from them, not just what they do on the pitch but off it as well, so it's time I have to be a bit more responsible with what I do. It's a little hard as I am only 21 and still only young myself, but you have to be more responsible as the young ones will look up to and you can't show them any bad tricks.
At the end of last month I watched Holland seal their qualification for the European Championships when they beat Spain. It was an okay game as Holland only had to hold their lead from the first leg but Karin Stevens scored two amazing goals and it is a great achievement for them to get to Finland. The atmosphere was unbelievable, so it was a really good occasion to be able to go to. I play with these girls week in week out and I know that Wales can emulate what they have done in the future - we have gone through a transition period for the last 18 months and we are coming to the end of that now. When the World Cup qualifiers take place, I think we are going to be a different team from last time.
From what I see of the players I play with for Wales, and those I play with in Holland, there is not a big difference and we can be there, it's just a matter of how much we want it. The European campaign was a learning curve for all of us but it made us realise that we can be there, and we should be there, and that is good for us.
It is really good to see that the Wales under-17s and under-19s are both doing well and have qualified for the next group in Europe. With the set up that we have in Wales at the moment, they can see that they are starting to get where we want to get and, if they can supply players for the seniors, it's what we want. It has taken a while to get it but the youngsters are here now and they deserve to be - I have been catching myself in training and worrying about my place! But that is a good thing as it will make me play better - and that goes for every single player we've got here.

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