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Injury-hit England ready for Spain

England and Spain have been familiar qualifying opposition in recent years but now they meet in a final tournament as the last teams to begin their campaigns on Friday.

Spain are looking to the spirit that took them past Scotland in a dramatic play-off
Spain are looking to the spirit that took them past Scotland in a dramatic play-off ©Getty Images

England and Spain have been familiar qualifying opposition in recent years but now they come face to face in a final tournament as the last two teams to begin UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Linkoping on Friday evening.

Having had an injury-disrupted build-up, England were dealt a fresh blow with the loss of first-choice central defender Sophie Bradley with a knock for the Spain game, but manager Hope Powell says the mood among the 2009 runners-up is relaxed. Spain, meanwhile, are looking forward to proving themselves after a 16-year final tournament absence.

Hope Powell, England coach
We've been here for 11 days and preparations have gone OK, so we are all raring to go and looking forward to it. I think where we are staying is helping [keeping us calm]. The hotel is quite relaxing. It's quite open, a lot of glass, a lot of sunlight, it's a nice environment.

We've had the game against Sweden [last Thursday], we were just outside Gothenburg and travelled to Linkoping after that, so that broke up the time and then had a game behind closed doors. It's gone relatively quickly, we've done a lot of work in between on the pitch, some analysis and done a bit of relaxing. The girls are free to walk around as they please, and I think the time has flown relatively quickly.

It's the first group game, they are always quite tense. If you looked at Sweden against Denmark, I think Sweden were quite nervous. Both teams are raring to go and I'm sure both teams have a little bit of nerves. The tournament's been a long time coming; once you've qualified you have got quite a few months to prepare. It's a game both teams want to do well in and that brings nerves.

P8 W6 D2 L0 F22 A2

2013 results
6 March: W4-2 v Italy (Cyprus Cup group, Nicosia)
8 March: D4-4 v Scotland (Cyprus Cup group, Larnaca)
11 March: W2-1 v New Zealand (Cyprus Cup group, Nicosia)
13 March: W1-0 v Canada (Cyprus Cup final, Nicosia)
7 April: W1-0 v Canada (h, Rotherham)
26 June: D1-1 v Japan (h, Burton upon Trent)
4 July: L1-4 v Sweden (a, Ljungskile)

Team news
Kelly Smith, Casey Stoney, Stephanie Houghton and Karen Carney have all just returned from injury, with Smith's shin problem the most serious and keeping her out of training on Thursday. However, the only definite absentee is centre-back Bradley due to an ankle injury. Powell said: "I think it's well documented about Sophie. Everybody [else] is fit and healthy and fine and everybody is up for selection."

Ignacio Quereda, Spain coach
I'm very optimistic and I'm very eager to start Friday's game against England. During the match we will try to counter their physical power, which we already know, with our own weapons.

The difference from the last time we participated [in 1997] is quite important. At that time in Spain there were 6,000 licenced female players and now there are 28,000; there is a little difference. The football was not as developed at is now. Maybe Spain has lagged a little behind the other countries and logically that difference we will see, we will notice in this final tournament. For us it is a success to be here but we are aware that we are behind other countries.

I am sure the stadium will be full because football in Sweden is very vibrant, has widespread appeal and the whole country is focused because they are hosting a European tournament. Maybe the fans would affect us only against Sweden. Our girls are used to games like these, they are used to playing before a large number of people, 9,000 or 10,000, and I do not think anything is going to influence them in the course of this game.

P10 W6 D2 L2 F43 A14

v Scotland: (a) 1-1, (h) 3-2 aet, agg 4-3

2013 results
16 January: W2-1 v Russia (h, Murcia)
12 February: D0-0 v Denmark (h, Las Rozas)
28 June: D2-2 v Denmark (a, Vejle)

Team news
For Spain's first final tournament match since the 1997 semi-finals, when he was also at the helm, Quereda has a full-strength side.

Match fact
These teams met in UEFA Women's EURO 2009 and 2011 FIFA Women's 2011 qualifying. In both cases England won 1-0 at home and drew 2-2 away after coming back from two down to top their group.

Did you know?
Quereda (in charge since 1988) and Powell (appointed in 1998) are the two longest-serving coaches in the finals; Silvia Neid, who took charge of Germany in 2005, is third.

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