Hope Powell to discuss coward comments with England

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport

England women's coach Hope Powell says she will discuss comments accusing some players of "cowardice" when the squad meets next month.

The remarks came after England suffered a World Cup quarter-final defeat by France on penalties in July, where three defenders took spot-kicks.

Powell said the comments overshadowed their performance in Germany.

"The whole thing was blown out of proportion and lost focus on what we achieved," she told BBC Sport.

"It was difficult, players did not come forward automatically which was a little bit of a surprise to me."

England name their squad for September's European Championship qualifiers against Serbia and Slovenia on Wednesday, having suffered a familiar World Cup exit in Germany last July.

France equalised to make it 1-1 three minutes from the end of normal time in Leverkusen, with World Cup debutant Claire Rafferty and captain Faye White missing from the spot in the 4-3 defeat.

But in reaching the last eight, and beating eventual winners Japan in the group stages, Powell's side rose to sixth in the Fifa rankings - their highest position.

"The most important point was to recognise that the girls did well," Powell added.

"We didn't play our best - we'd all admit that - but in a major tournament like that against high-class opposition, we were unbeaten [in normal time] and we learn the lessons and move forward.

"I haven't seen the players but when we meet we'll all get together and I'm sure [the comments] will be discussed."

Despite several senior players hinting that Germany might have been their last World Cup, Powell would not be drawn on whether there would be new faces in her squad as they aim to qualify for Euro 2013 in Sweden.

"We have youth teams and you hope that the conveyor belt of talent will come through," Powell said. "Some players are coming to the end of their careers and it's about balancing it out."

The Londoner, who has been England coach for 13 years, has registered her interest in taking up a performance role at the Football Association and says she would resign from her current position if it came about.

She has also been tipped by FA director of development Sir Trevor Brooking as a candidate to lead the Great Britain team in the 2012 Olympics.

But asked if she would like to lead Team GB in London, Powell said: "Ask me that question in a month's time and I will give you an honest answer."

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