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Bassett ready to lead Birmingham to another level

"On Wednesday we'll make history," Birmingham City LFC captain Laura Bassett told UEFA.com as the England defender voiced their excitement ahead of Wednesday's European debut.

Laura Bassett will captain Birmingham in their first European game
Laura Bassett will captain Birmingham in their first European game ©The FA via Getty Images

Birmingham City LFC are one of the oldest major women's clubs in England, founded in 1968, but this year has taken them to new heights.

In May they won their first major trophy, the FA Women's Cup, and thanks to their second-place finish in the FA Women's Super League (WSL) last year they will make their European debut in the UEFA Women's Champions League at home to ASD CF Verona in the round of 32. Captain Laura Bassett is in no doubt: "We're so proud of what we've achieved winning the FA Cup, and on Wednesday we'll make history – Birmingham City have never represented England on the European stage."

Verona are far from easy opponents for Birmingham, who are still in the WSL title hunt after beating Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC 2-0 on Sunday. The Italian club are in their sixth European campaign and were semi-finalists in 2007/08. Bassett, whose competition experience comes only as an unused substitute at her former club Arsenal LFC, is aware it will be a step up.

"I know they have a couple of foreign players, [Maria Josefina Karlsson] who played for Doncaster last season, and some Italian internationals," the England defender told UEFA.com. "Quite a few of our team have played against Italy with England throughout the age groups and we know we'll be in for a difficult test. They'll be very technical on the ball and we know we're in for a tough game.

"Everyone's really excited and really can't wait. [Since qualifying last year] we've focused on the WSL and before that the FA Cup; it's been a long time coming and now it's actually here I don't think it's sunk in yet. But as soon as Wednesday comes it will hit us.

"Off the pitch for the staff and everyone involved, for UEFA and the Champions League standards you have to abide by so many rules and regulations, so I know off the pitch everyone's been working hard and learned a lot of lessons. On the pitch we need to represent that and step up to the plate."

The Blues have an injury worry over goalkeeper Marie Hourihan, who went off with a gash under an eye on Sunday, but Bassett said: "She's had stiches and she's feeling good. It's up to her and her medical team whether she plays on Wednesday but knowing Mar she's an absolute soldier, she will want to play."

Even without Hourihan, Birmingham have a strong lineup including Bassett's England colleagues Eniola Aluko, Rachel Williams and also Karen Carney, a UEFA Women's Cup winner with Arsenal in 2007. "We've got players who have played in Europe before, we have quite a few England internationals who are used to playing on the international stage," Bassett said.

"We'll need to come together, perform as a group and support ourselves. Everyone needs to bring what they have to the game to get the result we want. Playing at home first we need to capitalise and make the most of it."

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