Casey Stoney column: No-one can be sure of place against Russia

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England stunned by late Spain winner

England v Russia

Venue:
Linkoping Arena
Date:
Monday 15 July
Kick-off:
1700 BST
Coverage:
Live on BBC Two and BBC Two HD from 1630 BST; live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 1700 BST; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

England and Lincoln Ladies captain Casey Stoney is writing regular columns for the BBC Sport website during the 2013 European Championship.

Here she talks about what went wrong in Friday's 3-2 opening defeat by Spain, how they can put things right against Russia and why no-one should be surprised if they find themselves left out of the starting 11 on Monday.

After our opening Euro 2013 defeat by Spain on Friday, I know that even as the captain my place could be under threat for our next game against Russia on Monday.

We knew immediately after and even at half-time, that we weren't good enough against the Spanish and I'm sure those players who played on Friday, myself included, will be thinking our head coach Hope Powell has every right to put us on the bench if she wants to.

I am absolutely positive that I'm not the only one in the team who would love to have another opportunity to put things right, though. There has been a lot of negative stuff said but we are more determined than ever to prove to people that our first game was not a true representation of how we can play.

After each match the players will get together and analyse the game ourselves before the coaches do it with us too. On this occasion, we spent two hours working out what went wrong and even before that we had a frank discussion.

Everybody made a lot of mistakes so we have talked about whether it was nerves of the first outing and how we can go into the Russia game without the same anxiety. And we know we need to be more alert and go out on the front foot rather than responding to the other team, which we did in scoring two equalisers against the Spanish.

It didn't help that we conceded our first goal after four minutes, and I take full responsibility for that. I heard some commentary saying it had something to do with the hamstring injury I have had recently, but it was not at all; I made the wrong decision.

I got caught in two minds and me and my fellow centre-back Laura Bassett got caught square, allowing Veronica Boquete through to score.

Our goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has also been criticised for Spain's winner, where she scored an injury-time own goal but I can assure you that was uncharacteristic for Karen. She is her own biggest critic and knowing her well because we play together at Lincoln Ladies, she won't have slept much on Friday night.

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England must learn from errors - Powell

When she was sat in the ice bath afterwards, she said to me that she felt like she lost us the game. But there are always several factors that go into scoring a goal and there were some people who hadn't done their jobs in stopping the ball or the opposition players getting into certain positions anyway.

She doesn't make mistakes like that often but she will put it behind her and, like us all, I know she will determined to put that right against the Russians.

We are pretty positive because our current situation is very similar to four years ago, when we reached the Euro 2009 final after losing our first game to Italy, a match in which I was sent off.

Back then we also faced Russia in the second game but we were 2-0 down before we started playing well and we eventually won 3-2. We certainly don't like to do things the easy way, and if I'm selected, it would great to play having missed out last time.

As a team, we have looked at Russia already, but I've done a bit of extra research myself by getting the DVDs from our analysis team and studying the opposition centre-forwards. I've watched them play France, but despite losing 3-1 in their opener, they are a good side. It won't be easy because every team in Europe has improved over the last four years.

With the first four Euro 2013 games being drawn and Germany's 19-game winning streak at European finals coming to an end, it seems that the standard has levelled out, although Sweden did give Finland a hammering on Saturday.

That could be interpreted as an opportunity for any team to win, and we would class ourselves in that group. But we need to do it when the pressure is on, starting with a win against Russia.

If we get three points we go into our last game against France knowing we have something to fight for. For our morale and confidence, we need that victory and there will be no hiding place for any of us.

Casey Stoney was talking to BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan.

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