Euro 2013: England boss Hope Powell waits on Kelly Smith injury

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Euros group is challenging - Powell

England manager Hope Powell says she is hopeful that skipper Casey Stoney and striker Kelly Smith will be fit for July's European Championship.

Smith is doubtful with a shin problem while Stoney has a hamstring injury.

Powell's squad has other injury concerns and she says it has been "tested to the extreme", with their first match on 12 July.

"I'm not a medic. But [Stoney and Smith] are on track and doing OK," Powell told BBC Sport.

"They've actually got to play and kick a ball and then you find out more.

"From a medical perspective, they are doing all that is required and at this moment in time they are doing everything that is expected."

Powell's squad will be finalised on 17 June, with the tournament taking place in Sweden from 10-28 July.

England reached the final in 2009 - where they were thrashed by Germany - and are hoping to go one better this time.

Before their first group match against Spain, England have warm-up games against World Cup winners Japan on 26 June and Sweden on 4 July.

Left-backs and Claire Rafferty have been ruled out of the tournament with serious knee injuries, while forward Karen Carney and goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis have ankle and thigh problems respectively.

Liverpool boss Matt Beard has suggested that the quick succession of fixtures in the opening part of the Women's Super League season may have contributed to some injuries.

Powell said: "[Losing two left-backs] doesn't give us much cover in that area but there is enough experience in the squad and we have tried a few things, certainly when we've been in camp, to make sure we have every position filled."

She added: "The depth of the squad has been tested to the extreme. So many players injured at the same time, a few weeks before a major tournament, is a test in itself.

"But there is depth in the squad and if players have to come on and perform, it's an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves."

The Women's Super League finishes on 9 June for its mid-season break to allow the national team to prepare for the Euros. And despite the injury count, Powell believes its increased competitiveness this season will stand her squad in good stead.

Serial title winners Arsenal have won two of their four league games while Liverpool and Bristol Academy are joint top of the table on points following impressive starts.

Powell said: "The games I've seen have been really good. There's been some movement of players which has really helped and the standard seems to have gone up a notch.

"That can only help internationally."

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