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A world class challenge...
 Women's Football News 8 Feb 2013
A world class challenge... - 8 Feb 2013 - Women's Football NewsIt will be great to be back with the team for the start of a New Year. 
Pre-season is always tough so as soon as the games come along everyone looks forward to the season ahead and what better way to kick off the international campaign by playing against the current Olympic Champions.
Teams don't come much better than the USA so obviously these two games are going to be a great test for us but it is something we are all looking forward to and after hearing rumour of the number of tickets sold for these games, I think I speak for us all when I say we cannot wait to get over there.
As a player you want to compete against the best and coming up against the likes of Morgan, Wambach, Rapinoe, Lloyd, Rampone etc. is definitely going to be a world class challenge but we will go over there and be fully prepared on what to expect from them, how to deal with it and also how we are going to utilise our strengths against them.
These matches are going to be very important in terms of our preparations for the World Cup qualifiers later in the year. It will provide us with new challenges which we maybe haven't faced coming up against European teams. Also we will gain the experience of playing in front of what is expected to be a pretty large attendance record (which is not something we are used to) along with also having to deal with the long haul flights and time difference etc.
It is a fantastic opportunity for the likes of Leanne Crichton, Joelle Murray and Suzanne Malone to make their mark again for this team. They know all the girls and fit into the squad extremely well, add that to them being fantastic players which they have proved week in week out for their clubs and I have no doubts that they will go on to do very well for the team.
I don't think the play-off match against Spain is something that will ever leave us but we will use the experience we have gained in those matches to our advantage and kick on this year to prepare for challenging for a place in the 2015 World Cup.
It is great news to have Ann-Helen Grahm back as assistant manager. Obviously it was disappointing losing Angie but in terms of transition for the team, to have someone come in that already knows so much about the players, the way we play etc, is fantastic. Ann-Helen has also gained experience from coaching in major tournaments with the Swedish National Team and I am sure that she will use that experience to our advantage in helping to develop the women's game in Scotland.
However the Scotland under-19s have lost a great manager in Shelley Kerr but what is Scotland's loss is Arsenal's gain and I wish her all best. Our under-19 players are a very talented group and I am sure they will do well with whoever is Shelley's successor.
Since my last column, two of our younger internationals - Jane Ross and Emma Mitchell - have moved to clubs in Sweden and Germany on a full time basis. To see more and more of our players turning professional is a great testament to the work that is being done in this country to improve and develop the players. Both at youth and senior level across the country there are endless volunteers/coaches etc working hard to improve the standards of the womens game in Scotland and you are starting to see the rewards by players being noticed on the world stage and being signed professionally.
Unfortunately there is no professional league in Scotland as yet and so for players to achieve their goals of turning professional they need to move elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if more players get the opportunity in following the footsteps of the already professional girls because there is a lot of talent still to be recognised. I would like to think that one day we will see Scotland have a professional league so that we don't need to lose such great talents to other countries.

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