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Hope Powell has named the 21 England players who will travel to Germany to compete in the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals later this month.
With an average age of 26, the squad is a healthy blend of youth and experience and it contains 13 players who flew to China for the World Cup in 2007. Fifteen of this current squad made the cut for Euro 2009, while call ups for Sophie Bradley, Dunia Susi, Claire Rafferty, Steph Houghton and Ellen White mean five players will be receiving their maiden experience of a senior international tournament.
Faye White and Fara Williams have both been included in the 21 despite the duo nursing injuries over the past few weeks.
England qualified for the Finals after topping their qualification group unbeaten and defeating Switzerland in a two-legged play-off late last year. Powell's side have been drawn in World Cup Group B alongside Mexico (who they will face in Wolfsburg on Monday 27 June), New Zealand (Dresden, Friday 1 July) and Japan (Augsburg, Tuesday 5 July).
"It was a very challenging decision, but a challenging decision in a positive way," said Hope of her squad selection.
"The standard of top-level women's football in this country has definitely improved and we are in a better place now in terms of players than we have ever been. I have got a really talented bunch of players to choose from and this choice has been made even more difficult in recent times by the emergence of some of the younger players who have come to the fore and have done really well. They deserve an opportunity to be part of something really great, which is what this World Cup will be.
"I asked my assistant coach [Brent Hills] and my goalkeeping coach [Keith Rees] to name their 21-player squads, separately, and interestingly all three of us picked exactly the same 21. I think that confirms what we've all been seeing in the last few months with how well the players have been doing."
Hope submitted a long list of 30 to FIFA at the end of May and among those to miss the cut for Germany were Everton defender Lindsay Jonson and Lincoln Ladies winger Sue Smith.
"Everyone knows I'm quite a strong person, but I have to make difficult decisions and I really do feel for the nine players that didn't quite make it," admitted Powell. "It's not nice breaking that news but it has to be done. I can't fault the application and the work those players have put in and if anyone knows Sue and Lindsay in particular they'll know that they train as hard as anyone and they put themselves in the best possible place for selection. Unfortunately for them, and all of the others that were left out, the standard has really increased recently and in the end my choice was ultimately determined by a combination of position, cover and form."
The 21 players who will fly to Germany on Sunday 19 June have amassed an incredible 1041 senior international caps between them, an average of 49 caps per player, and only two players (Sophie Bradley and Claire Rafferty) have a caps total in single figures. In 2007, England were entering unchartered territory as not one of Powell's squad had played in a World Cup before. Now, though, a large group of players can call upon their experiences from China, where the Three Lions were eliminated by USA at the quarter final stage.
"I'd like to think that would stand us in good stead," said Hope, of England's Eastern adventure. "We can use the experiences we had in China - and in Finland at the Euros - to our advantage. The build up to this World Cup has been really good. The players have matured well, a lot of them now know what it's like to play in a World Cup and I'm hoping those factors will help us perform. You can never ignore your past experiences, you just need them to come to the fore at the right time - and the right time is 27 June."
One player who will have reason to celebrate this call-up more than most is Steph Houghton, who missed out in both 2007 and 2009 through injury.
"When I spoke to Steph [to tell her she was selected] she was delighted. I told her that she had deserved it because I think she has done incredibly well to keep herself going. She has had two major disappointments and she has worked so hard to give herself the best possible chance of being selected again. I tell all the players they must keep their feet on the ground and earn the right to be called up to any squad and Steph has certainly done that. She has a really bright future."
England's FIFA Women's World Cup squad:
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