Women's Euro 2013: Players need reassurance - Hope Powell

Hope Powell

ENGLAND V RUSSIA, GROUP C

Venue:
Linkoping Arena
Date:
Monday, 15 July
Kick-off:
17:00 BST
Coverage:
Watch live on BBC Two, BBC Two HD, connected TV and the BBC Sport website; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

England manager Hope Powell says she will remind her team about their recent achievements before they face Russia in their second Euro 2013 match on Monday.

The Lionesses were beaten 3-2 by Spain in their Group C opener, and looked "nervous" according to Powell.

"When you are expected to do well and everybody is rooting for you at home, that is a lot of pressure," she said.

"Anxiety is sometimes quite draining. More importantly it's a case of reminding the players they are good."

The defeat by Spain was England's second in succession after they also lost a pre-tournament friendly 4-1 to Sweden, but Powell is keen to recall her side's 11-game unbeaten run coming into the European Championship.

In the last two-and-a half years her side have also beaten world champions Japan in the 2011 World Cup, world number one United States, and drawn twice in normal time with a hotly-tipped French side, who England face in their final group game.

"[I will say to the players] 'look at your previous record, 11 games unbeaten, beating some of the leading nations in the world' and we will just reinforce those positive messages and hopefully they can contain themselves enough to play," she said.

After Russia also lost their first match - 3-1 against France - both sides will be desperate to earn their first points of the tournament.

But England are likely to be without defender Sophie Bradley, who continues her recovery from an ankle injury, and striker Kelly Smith, who Powell said would not start after a shin problem.

The game is a repeat of the meeting at Euro 2009, where England also lost their first match before recovering from a 2-0 deficit to beat Russia 3-2. They subsequently reached the final, where they were beaten 6-2 by Germany.

England 2-3 Spain

Powell, who has watched Russia twice in the build-up to the tournament, said they are a different prospect from four years ago, but still expects a tough test from Sergei Lavrentyev's side despite being the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.

The Russians are also recovering from an injury to midfielder Anastasia Pozdeeva, who ruptured her knee ligaments in the defeat by France.

Powell refused to say whether she would make changes to the side but said it is a "must-win game". And she also highlighted the need for her team to improve defensively after conceding seven in their last two games.

"If the players go out and play the way they can and give it their all, I will be happy. By their own admission, against Spain they didn't play their best game. Too many of them had an off-day and it became infectious and that was disappointing," she added.

"[On Monday] I have no doubt everybody will give it 110% and if we do that we have half a chance of winning. If we don't perform we are going to be in trouble.

"I know we can score goals, but the problem is we have conceded too many along the way and I've said to the defenders and the senior players that we have to tighten up."

Powell also described the 1.2m audience on BBC Three for England's first game as "phenomenal".

Top Stories