Cyprus Cup: England and Scotland prepare for tournament

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
England women
England went all the way to the Cyprus Cup final last year before losing 2-0 to France
Cyprus Cup 2015 on the BBC
Host Country: Cyprus Dates: 4-12 March
Coverage: Reports on England and Scotland games, plus updates in Sportsday Live

England begin their Cyprus Cup campaign aiming to reach a third successive final in the tournament, before this summer's World Cup.

England, winners in 2013 and runners-up last year, face group games against Finland, Australia and the Netherlands.

Scotland will look to go one step further than 2014 in Cyprus, when they lost the third place final against South Korea on penalties.

Anna Signeul's team face World Cup hosts Canada, Italy and South Korea.

In the lead-up to England's first game, against Finland in Larnaca on Wednesday, head coach Mark Sampson is targeting a confidence-yielding trophy triumph.

"We're in a tough group," said Sampson, "but we'll be going out to win every game and aiming to come back home with the Cup."

Like England, both Australia and the Netherlands will be at the World Cup finals.external-link

"Every game we play will be difficult," added Sampson.

"Finland are aggressive and well organised, Holland are the most improved side in Europe over the last year and Australia - as a team from a different continent - give us a different challenge that will stand us in good stead for the World Cup.

"Having the squad together in a tournament situation will be great in terms of our preparations for the World Cup and that's the most important consideration over these next couple of weeks - but winning matches is also important."

Sampson will give game time to all 23 players in his squad as he looks to produce a winning formula to take into the World Cup.

England will step out against Finland after losing their last two matches, to the world's top two nations Germany and the United States.

Sampson said: "We wanted to play the Germans and the Americans to see where we're at and where we need to get to to compete with the very best in the world.

"We've learned good lessons and we'll be aiming to put them to good use in Cyprus and then when we get to Canada."

Cyprus Cup Groups
Group A:ScotlandCanadaItalyKorea Republic
Group B:AustraliaEnglandFinlandThe Netherlands
Group C:BelgiumCzech RepublicMexicoSouth Africa

Scotland will not be in Canada after losing to the Netherlands in the play-offs.

But with Euro 2017 qualifiers beginning later this year head coach Signeul will be using the Cyprus Cup as a key part of her team's build-up.

Signeul has named a squad with several inexperienced internationals alongside veterans such as goalkeeper Gemma Fay, who is poised to win her 181st cap when the Scots meet Canada in Nicosia in their group opener on Wednesday.

The long-time Scotland head coach, who has just signed a new two-year contract, said: "This tournament will be a good test for our young players and vital match practice for the whole squad ahead of the Euro qualifiers.

"Last year was our best ever performance at the Cyprus Cup and we'll be aiming to do just as well and hopefully a little better this time.

"It will be tough, though. Canada will be very strong, Italy are always competitive and we know how good South Korea are from last year."

England squad: Bardsley (Manchester City), Chamberlain (Arsenal), Telford (Notts County), Bassett (Notts County), Bonner (Liverpool), Greenwood (Notts County), Houghton (Manchester City), Rafferty (Chelsea), A. Scott (Arsenal), Stokes (Manchester City), Stoney (Arsenal), Carney (Birmingham City), Chapman (Chelsea), Moore (Birmingham City), Nobbs (Arsenal), Potter (Birmingham City), J. Scott (Manchester City), Williams (Liverpool), Aluko (Chelsea), Clarke (Notts County), Kirby (Reading), Sanderson (Arsenal), Taylor (Portland Thorns).

Scotland squad: Cunningham (Glasgow City), Fay (Unattached), Lynn (Vittsjo GIK), Beattie (Manchester City), Fiona Brown (Glasgow City), Frankie Brown (Bristol Academy), Clelland (FC Pink Bari), Corsie (Seattle Reign), Crichton (Notts County), Dieke (Vittsjo GIK), Lauder (Glasgow City), Little (Seattle Reign), Love (Glasgow City), McSorley (Mallbackens IF), Mitchell (Arsenal), Murray (Bristol Academy), J. Ross (Vittsjo GIK), L. Ross (Glasgow City), Smith (Hibernian), Weir (Arsenal).