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England go into the UEFA Under-19 Championships with the initial aim of at least equalling their best run in the competition. The Lionesses reached the semi final stage in both 2002 and 2003, losing to the eventual winners on both occasions, and a similar achievement this time around would also see them qualify for next year's FIFA Under-20 World Championships in Russia.
Mo Marley leads the young England side into the tournament once again and the inclusion of Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko in the squad has raised expectations ahead of the Championships. The likes of Lianne Sanderson, Dani Bird and Michelle Evans can also greatly enhance their reputations with good performances.
"It's about playing against the best young players in Europe," says Mo. "If you'd asked me 12 months ago, I'd have said we would do magnificently to reach the Finals but we've done that now.
"We are young and quite inexperienced but, when you bring our players together, you think 'this is a talented squad'. Our expectations are perhaps not as high as in 2002 and 2003 when we reached the semi finals, but we shall be striving for World Cup qualification."
England open up their fixtures against Scotland on Wednesday evening, a game which Mo describes as 'like a local derby' and she adds: "Scotland are always difficult as they play a similar kind of football to us and the emphasis will be on aggression, which is the strength of the game. But technically we are better and I'm confident we can deliver the goods.
"Russia are an unknown quantity, but they reached the World Cup quarter finals and to do that, you've got to have some quality. France have a big pedigree and three of their squad were at Euro 2005 but that's great, these are the sort of teams we want to be playing against."
Meanwhile Lianne Sanderson, one of the top young talents in English football, will go into her first major tournament with some top European experience to draw on. The 17-year-old has played in two UEFA Women's Cup semi finals and she feels the team can build on their 2-0 win over Norway which clinched qualification for the Finals. "After the way we came through against the odds, I really think we can win the tournament," she says. "In our last game of the qualifying group we had to beat Norway by two goals and it was a big ask, but we got two goals before half time and held out in the second half with a composed performance.
"The games we get at the Championships will probably be even tougher and we'll need to show the same character, but I'm sure we'll do that.
"Our coaches have got confidence in the girls, we've got confidence in each other and after working towards this tournament for almost a year, we want to win it."
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