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Competition has been fierce - Hope
 Women's Football News 5 Aug 2009
Competition has been fierce - Hope - 5 Aug 2009 - Women's Football NewsA candid Hope Powell admitted that competition for places in the England squad for the Euro 2009 Finals was tough as she named the players who will travel to Finland later in the month.
"With the competitiveness of the squad, to select the final 22 was difficult," she said. "The depth and choice of players has been greater and harder in terms of selection.
"The competition for places has been fierce, which can only be a good thing."
One player who didn't make it into the squad was Rachel Yankey, despite being her country's most-capped current player. "Rachel hasn't played well in the last 12 months," said Hope. "Other players have performed better and so warranted a place more."
There was better news for Kelly Smith and Faye White who are both included despite worrying knee injuries. "Kelly is doing okay and played for 76 minutes for her club last week," added the England boss. "She is on track and feels good, although she will always get a bit of stiffness in the knee.
"Faye's sheer presence and the fact she will die for the cause is important, you need that type of player in the tournament. It's a gamble but one I am prepared to take and I know she won't let me down."
Hope also singled out the versatile Emily Westwood as well as the least experienced players in the squad - Danielle Buet, Jess Clarke and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.
"Emily can also play in defence as she did at the China Cup in 2007, when she did very well," she said. "She came off the bench in qualifying against Spain and the Czech Republic and made a difference. There may be a question of whether she could play 90 minutes, but undoubtedly she is an impact player.
"Dan and Jess are both a little raw but sometimes that's a good thing. They have come through the system strongly and both have something to offer. I think they bring something we need at this moment.
"We have been monitoring Karen for a long time and the reports from her club have been very good. She is a full time player in America now and has developed physically, her presence is enormous and brings a little more security."
Looking ahead to the Finals, Hope urged caution despite a good run of results over the past 12 months. "We had a really good run before Euro 2005 but finished bottom of the group," she warned.
"Italy have a lot of talented younger players coming through while Russia will be a physical, quite rigid side.
"Sweden are the clear favourites to get out of the group, they are the team everyone is looking at right now.
"Our first focus is to get out of the group, let's do it one bit at a time. It's now about the matches and what you do to get you through."

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