Women's Euro 2017: Scotland can make progress from group - Kim Little

Scotland midfielder Kim Little
Kim Little was missing through injury as Scotland lost to Belgium

Kim Little believes Scotland can recover from their recent thrashing by Belgium to qualify from their group at the forthcoming Women's Euro finals.

Minus Little and several other injured players, they were beaten by fellow Euro 2017 finalists Belgium 5-0.

"I think, on our day, within our group, we can beat any of the teams," the midfielder said of their chances against England, Spain and Portugal.

"I believe we can get out of the group and that's our first aim."

Scotland will be making their debut at a major finals when they take part in Netherlands, with the hosts opening the tournament against Norway on 16 July.

Anna Signeul's side will kick-off their campaign against England, who are ranked fourth in the world, 17 places above the Scots.

"Obviously, playing England in the first game is going to make it even more special and I am excited by that," Little, who is back playing in England with Arsenal, told BBC Sport.

"Me and other players have friends in both teams, so I think that adds to it as well and I think both sets of players are very excited by that.

Kim Little (centre) is congratulated by her Seattle Reign team-mates
Little (centre) thinks her Seattle Reign experience improved her as a player

"There's a few laughs about it, but come 19 July, when we play them, it will be all serious and I think it will be such a good competitive spectacle for the players and the people to watch.

"I am just proud to be involved. It is a wonderful stage to play on and be a part of and, because it is our first one for Scotland, we are looking forward to it and it will be special to us."

The 38th-ranked Portuguese are second up for the Scots, who lost to a Belgium side two places below them in 23rd, and they then face Spain, who are eight places above them.

Little says they will have to be on their best form to qualify "because we are playing against some very good teams - England and Spain especially".

But she stressed: "Our squad has developed a lot over the last few years and we've got a lot of players who are playing professionally now, which wasn't the case before.

"So that's increased our level of performance and narrowed the gap between ourselves and the higher-ranked nations."

Little, who was BBC Women's Footballer of the Year in 2016, believes she has also improved personally since leaving Arsenal to join Seattle Reign in 2013 and also having a spell on loan with Melbourne City.

"I think I was 23 and wanted to go on a new adventure and try to provide myself with a new experience to grow as a player and a person," she said.

Kim Little in action for Arsenal
Little has begun her second spell with Arsenal

"I definitely got that in Seattle. I had a great three years there and loved every minute of it, but I don't like to become stagnant.

"I went to Australia the year before, which I loved as well. It was a new experience, a different league and a different country."

Little is also relishing her return to the English top flight - and to the London club who last won the Women's Super League in 2012.

"I felt that the club here at Arsenal has progressed so much since I left in terms of its professionalism and I decided to come back to try to improve myself and help the club to get back to where it's supposed to be at the top of the game," she said.

"The development of clubs, for example, Manchester City - that's exciting."

City won the title last year ahead of Chelsea, to whom they had finished runners-up the season before.

"I hope the league here can keep progressing," Little added. "The FA have done a great job with central contracts with the English players, so it keeps those players here, and they are attracting more international players."

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