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Casey Stoney will lead her side out at the Stadium of Light when Chelsea take on Sunderland in the semi finals of the F.A.Women's Cup and a victory for the England defender would be an extra special one.
The 26-year-old is taking on a new challenge in her career as she is now the club's player manager and her appointment sparked off a remarkable month for her. "It's been quite an eventful month!" she laughed when speaking to Women's Soccer Scene. "I was told on the Friday night before we played OOH Lincoln in the quarter finals that I would be in charge so things were a little bit hectic for me. We were one down after a few minutes because of an individual error, then 2-1 up and we had a player sent off and you start to think, 'here we go.' But we actually played better with ten players and went on to win the game, and that is the spirit we need for the game against Sunderland."
Casey then joined up with the England squad for the Cyprus Cup, a tournament which saw her captain her country in the match against France and she marked the occasion by scoring the equalising goal to give her side a 2-2 draw, and she finished the tournament with a winner's medal as England beat Canada 3-1 in the Final. "When I went away with England, I was strictly a player and nothing else," she says. "I didn't seek Hope Powell for any advice, nor anybody else, I was purely concentrating on myself being a part of the team and the squad.
"I am trying to take everything in my stride right now - firstly I am a player and then a manager. There is a lot more pressure and I seem to be constantly on the phone but I am doing the best I can to get the team as prepared as possible for each game. When I am on the pitch, I have to concentrate on my game and I know I have Pete Steward on the bench to assist me.
"I have always wanted to stay in the game after playing and maybe to be a manager, but it has come more suddenly than I thought it would."
On returning, Casey led Chelsea to a 2-1 victory against Bristol Academy to help keep the Blues in third place. "We have lost Eniola Aluko and Anita Asante to America and we are trying to replace them," she admits. "It was a tough game and it wasn't the best of pitches to be honest, but it was a very good result for us. Sometimes we have come unstuck against Bristol Academy and they had got back into the game, but it was a good goal from Lianne (Sanderson) - when you have a player like that in your side you have got a chance because she is a match winner."
Now Chelsea travel to the North East for the opportunity to reach the F.A.Women's Cup Final for the first time in their history. "We've been busy preparing for this," says Casey. "It's been a little difficult as Eni and Anita have gone but these things happen. We have got the best reserve team in the country and it is a chance for them to step up and win a place.
"We shall be going into the game as favourites because of our higher status, so we know the expectation levels and that the pressure is on us. We know it will be a battle and a tough test but I am confident in the ability of our players.
"Sunderland have had some good results and are the favourites to go up from the Northern Division. We are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and know that nothing less than a fantastic performance will see us through."
The occasion will be extra special as it will be played at the Stadium of Light, giving an opportunity to play on a Premiership ground. "We really appreciate that Sunderland have given us the opportunity to play there," Casey says. "It's a lovely stadium and a great pitch, so the girls are really looking forward to that. Hopefully it will attract a big crowd and generate a good atmosphere.
"We have got to cement ourselves in third place in the league and now we have the chance to go for a place in a Cup Final, which the club has never done before. If we can secure our highest ever finish and get some silverware, it would be a great season."
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