Belgium v Scotland
Tuesday, 11 April 2017, kick-off 7.45 pm (UK time)
Stadion Den Dreef, Leuven, Belgium
Scotland will take the next step in their preparations for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 finals tomorrow night when they face Belgium in an International Challenge match in Leuven.
Scotland have faced the Belgian Red Flames four times during head coach Anna Signeul’s tenure, winning on each occasion. They last played each other in 2011 at the Falkirk Stadium, with a solitary goal for the home side from Julie Fleeting proving enough to secure victory on that occasion.
Scotland will field a new-look side at the Stadion Den Dreef, with regular squad members Jenny Beattie, Rachel Corsie, Hayley Lauder, Kim Little, Jo Love, Rachel McLauchlan, Joelle Murray and Caroline Weir all missing out due to minor injuries, while Emma Mitchell will miss the next three to four months with a hamstring problem.
Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert also misses the game having been called up to the Under-19 side for their European Championships qualifying campaign. The decision was an overwhelming success as she led the team to three consecutive wins with five goals in three games as Scotland became the first team to qualify for the finals.
In the absence of so many regulars Anna Signeul may turn to some fresh faces, with defenders Vaila Barsley, Kelly Clark and Sophie Howard all called up for the first time.
Meanwhile Manchester City striker Jane Ross will be hoping to maintain the rich vein of form that saw her top the goal scoring charts for the qualifiers, where she netted ten goals in eight games.
Although Belgium go into the match off the back of a 4-1 defeat to Spain on Saturday they will nonetheless be high on confidence having also qualified for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 finals. Like Scotland, the tournament will be their first appearance at a major finals.
Ranked only two places below Scotland in the FIFA world rankings at 23rd, Anna Signeul is aware of the threat Belgium pose.
“As part of our preparation we wanted to play against other teams who will also be at the Euros and who have different styles and strengths,” she said.
“Like Scotland, Belgium are developing a lot. They are a very strong and well organised tram and will provide us with a good test.
“Every game and every opportunity now is vital in our preparation for the Euros, especially when we have so many injuries at present with new players coming in.
“We have a number of players in the squad that weren’t with us in in Cyprus recently, so it has been a great opportunity to see how hungry and enthusiastic they are to get into the 23 for the Euros. That competition is good for everyone involved.”
Gemma Fay (Glasgow City) 197 caps
Lee Alexander (Glasgow City) 0 caps
Shannon Lynn (Vittsjö GIK) 23 caps
Frankie Brown (Bristol City) 84 caps
Kelly Clark (Celtic) 0 caps
Ifeoma Dieke (Vittsjö GIK) 117 caps
Nicola Docherty (Glasgow City) 11 caps
Kirsty Smith (Hibernian) 21 caps
Sophie Howard (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim) 0 caps
Vaila Barsley (Eskilstuna United) 0 caps
Leanne Crichton (Notts County) 48 caps
Claire Emslie (Bristol City) 2 caps
Lisa Evans (FC Bayern München) 57 caps
Lucy Graham (Hibernian) 0 caps
Christie Murray (Doncaster Rovers Belles) 45 caps
Leanne Ross (Glasgow City FC) 129 caps
Lizzie Arnot (Hibernian) 12 caps
Fiona Brown (Eskilstuna United) 15 caps
Lana Clelland (UPC Tavagnacco) 12 caps
Jane Ross (Manchester City) 102 caps