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Hope Powell named her squad for the Cyprus Cup last week and sees the tournament as the ideal preparation for the players with the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Spain looming on the horizon.
"The tournament will give me a chance to look at everyone in the squad and prepare in the right way for the upcoming double header against Austria and Spain," she said. "That is the priority at the moment and we will get some good game time over in Cyprus. The squad of 20 will all be involved and, fingers crossed, we can repeat our success of last year and come away with the trophy."
Hope admits a successful 2009 for England has only increased the hunger among her players: "Yes, we had a great year in 2009, as we did in 2008. We got to a major final and you can see the hunger in the players of wanting more success like that. We have done well the last couple of years but we haven't won a major trophy yet and all the players are focused on World Cup qualification, we want to be in Germany in 2011 and we want to do well in tournaments on a permanent basis."
Hope goes into the tournament without winger Karen Carney but feels that competition in the squad is healthy and also hopes Rachel Yankey will impress on her return to the England squad. "Karen has a knee injury but we hope to have her back for the qualifiers. Rachel did very well at our last training camp in La Manga and she is having a good season at Arsenal, she will add something to the squad and we hope her qualities will come to the forefront."
The England boss is confident her players will be focused on what will be a critical couple of months for the senior team. "We had all of them over in La Manga last month and I was pleased with how the training camp went, they seem focused and ready for what will be a crucial period for us. We face Austria and Spain at the end of March and how well we do in these games will go a long way to determining if we qualify. Everyone says Spain are our biggest challengers in this group, but we can't afford to look past Austria otherwise we will lose our focus. The aim is for six points in two games and the players will be prepared for that.
"We will get an extended period of time with the girls with the games in such quick succession and it means we will get to work on things in a lot more detail. The downside is that any injuries in the first game may affect the team selection in the Spain game so we will have to manage that carefully.
"I'm looking forward to the home games, it would be great to get a good crowd to both games and we really want to get everyone behind us, these games are vital to us and a big crowd on our side will really encourage the players."
Eniola Aluko and Katie Chapman have both withdrawn from the Cyprus Cup Squad for personal reasons. No replacements will be called up, therefore a squad of 20 will travel for the tournament.
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