Leanne Crichton: Midfielder rues loss of Jen Beattie, Kim Little & Lizzie Arnot

Kim Little Jen Beattie and Lizzie Arnot
Kim Little (left), Jen Beattie (middle) and Lizzie Arnot are key players who will miss Scotland's first major tournament

Scotland women midfielder Leanne Crichton says competing in a first major tournament finals without three key players is a severe blow.

Anna Signeul's side are missing injured trio Kim Little, Jen Beattie and Lizzie Arnot for Euro 2017, which begins on 17 July in the Netherlands.

"I think it's huge - any team at the Euros would miss players like Kim, Jenny and Lizzie," said Crichton.

"The good thing is we have got a bit of strength in depth in the squad now."

Manchester City defender Beattie is nursing an ankle injury, while midfielder Little, of Arsenal, and Hibernian striker Arnot have both ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligaments.

"There are certainly quality players that have been brought in because of their absences, and I think those players along with myself will show it's about the squad and what we can do collectively," Glasgow City's Crichton told BBC Scotland.

Leanne Crichton in action
Leanne Crichton reckons the tournament can help inspire future generations of Scottish players

"I'm disappointed for them and for us, but it's part of football. We just need to go on and do what we can now without them."

Boss Signeul shares Crichton's disappointment for the missing trio, especially given how close Little and Beattie have come to qualifying for major tournaments in the past, only to fall at the play-off stage.

"It's very, very sad for them and I feel for the players," the Swede told BBC Scotland. "Kim and Jennifer have been part of these play-offs that were so close so many times and now when we finally made it, they are not here.

"They are young and although this is the first time we've qualified, there will be many more times after this, so just focus on getting back to full fitness and helping the team get to the next World Cup."

'It can take Scotland to the next level'

Little, voted BBC Women's Footballer of the Year for 2016, is on the way to recovery following successful surgery, and is positive about Scotland's chances in the Netherlands.

"It's obviously a blow to miss it, especially when I was initially told," she said. "It was easy to accept because I knew I had no chance [of recovering from the injury in time]. It's devastating but it gives someone else an opportunity and I look forward to watching my team-mates."

Scotland, drawn in Group D, begin their maiden European Championship campaign on 19 July against England, before taking on Portugal a week later, then Spain on 27 July.

Anna Signeul
Signeul will become the national coach of Finland after leading Scotland at Euro 2017

Crichton insists the Scots are "not going to make up the numbers" and hopes their presence and performances in the Netherlands can motivate girls and young women back home.

"We'll definitely grasp the opportunity, and who knows where the tournament will take us?" she added.

"In Scotland, it's really important for young kids now to have positive role models and I think that's all that any of the girls in the team look to do. We want to inspire the next generation of footballers - maybe something we didn't have a lot of as kids.

"Anything we can change going forward for the next generation will be massive. Seeing the effect that major tournaments have had on other countries, I think it can definitely take Scotland to the next level.

"I think letting people see us out there, letting kids know that it's actually a job now - young females and young girls can make a job and a career from being a footballer, and I think that's really positive."

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