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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Powell ready to test planning

Coach Hope Powell is looking forward to seeing what her Great Britain team are made of ahead of Friday's Olympic preparation friendly with Sweden.

Five days away from their Games-opener with New Zealand in Cardiff, Powell's players are taking part in a Middlesbrough double-header along with their male counterparts in what will also act as a 'send-off' fixture.

The game is needed too as, despite her squad boasting numerous international caps, Powell knows they are gearing up for a maiden tournament under the Team GB banner, and she is eager to see how they have gelled together.

"I think it gives us a benchmark of where we are with the squad, an opportunity to have a real good look at players and, playing against Sweden who were medallists at the World Cup, it is a good leveller to see how much we need to do before the first game against New Zealand,'' she said.

Having been kitted out in GB colours a fortnight ago and with time in the athletes' village already under their belts, Powell's players have already been getting into the Olympic spirit. And they have been given a lesson in what it means to represent the nation, with former athlete Dame Kelly Holmes addressing them last week.

The double gold medallist from 2004 encouraged the players - captained by Casey Stoney - to concentrate on being Olympians before footballers, and that is something Powell is endorsing.

"We went into the village to experience what is was like to be Team GB and Kelly Holmes came to speak to us and put her take on it and what it actually means to be an Olympian,'' Powell said. "It really hit home with the girls, about embracing this one-team ethos.

"If you've never experienced an Olympic village, it's fantastic. As one team you sit, eat and chat together from all different sports, and it is about Team GB doing well. We want to do well as footballers, but also part of that whole team concept, which is great.''

A veteran of 14 years in charge of the England team, Powell has been to both European and world championships, but is new to the Great Britain concept. She is not letting that faze her, though, and is still finding the time to reinforce her belief that her side can chase both medals and new admirers over the coming weeks.

"I'm really enjoying it. It's a new experience for us, for myself and the players. We're actually embracing every moment,'' she said. "I'm relaxed and happy so far. As a team we want to do well but we also recognise the role we're playing. It's an Olympic stage and the first time GB women's football has been there.

"We want to set a long-lasting legacy, show that women's football is a good product and give us a good platform to develop the game further.''

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