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Next Wednesday sees us resume our qualifying group for Euro 2013 and, in truth, our task could not be any tougher as we travel to Caen to play France.
I think that any team which is about to play France would see it as their 'ultimate test' and we are no different. We are obviously feeling good as we have had a good run of results prior to the Algarve Cup and another great tournament over in Portugal. France are a great side though, and won the Cyprus Cup earlier this month, so they are also in fine form. It will be a tough game but one we are excited to play.
We hope to learn from our last game against France back in October, when we eventually lost 4-1 after scoring in the opening minute. We were a little disappointed with the goals we conceded on the day, hopefully we can make it as difficult as possible for them this time around.
A few weeks ago we competed in another Algarve Cup and it has put us in good heart for the France game. As a squad we find the Algarve Cup the best sort of preparation to kick off the international calendar for the year. Seeing that we don't get together as often as most teams, we see it as vitally important and I think that shows in the way we attack the tournament and the matches. Winning the group was the aim at the start, but it was important that we also played the right way and focused on doing the right things.
Our reward for finishing on top of our group was to play Norway in the positional match before we went home. Facing Norway, in a sense, was the same feeling as when we played France - we did some right things but again were left disappointed in the goals that we conceded. But it was good for us to play against a higher seeded team and we can only learn from taking on sides of this quality.
Three of our squad - myself, Gwennan Harries and Katie Sherwood - passed the 50-cap mark during the course of the Algarve Cup, which is a sign that the core of our squad are getting that little bit more experienced now. However, I believe our progression is coming from having a good balance of experience with youth, and hard work on and off the pitch. Since we lost our opening qualifier to the Republic of Ireland, only France and Norway have beaten us and we now have our highest ever world ranking, so things are going in the right direction.
The senior squad are not the only ones with an important week ahead of them and I would just like to wish our Under-19s the best of luck in their Second Phase qualifying group in the UEFA Under-19 Championships next week. They have a great squad and there is no reason why they can't qualify for what would be our first ever major tournament - good luck girls!
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