By Adam Clark
The nine Arsenal Ladies named in the England squad for the forthcoming World Cup in China are "ecstatic", according to midfielder Rachel Yankey.
Three Lions coach Hope Powell has called upon the entire English contingent of Vic Akers' first-team squad after they propelled the Gunners to an historic quadruple last season.
Yankey, whose 72 international appearances make her the most experienced member of the squad, was a shoo-in to be picked. Nonetheless, the 27-year-old insists she was relieved to hear the good news.
"I'm very pleased to be in the squad," she told Arsenal.com. "It's been a bit scary waiting for Hope to announce the team but now everyone's really excited and looking forward to it. The Arsenal girls are ecstatic that we're all going. It would have been horrible if one of us was to miss out. To have all nine of us there will be fantastic."
With the nine boasting a staggering 382 caps between them there's no shortage of experience. Yankey says the team spirit and the glory they have shared will serve them well in East Asia. The situation, she suggests, is not all that different to last season's Uefa Cup Final against Swedish giants Umea.
"It definitely helps that we're all from Arsenal, on the pitch and also off it," she said. "It helps team spirit because we're used to each other, we've travelled together many times before and we all get on. To be honest we're going to be underdogs in the group we're in. We've got the World Champions Germany, Japan are a good side and so are Argentina. It's two to qualify so if we can be one of those and then go from there it would great. You never know what's going to happen in tournament football. The first stage is getting out of the group and then I suppose the adrenaline boost will take us from there.
"Winning the UEFA Cup last season is obviously going to
help us too. We were underdogs in that but our team spirit got us
through. I think we also learned to play with more of a strategy to
give us an advantage. We had to give up the glamorous football we
usually try to play. It was a gritty team performance that got us
through and that's what we're going to need in the World