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Little takes on big responsibility with forward role

Published on 5 April 2012

ARSENAL star Kim Little is expected to be handed a more attacking role tonight as Scotland try to get their Euro 2013 qualifying campaign back on track.

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The match against the Republic of Ireland at Tynecastle is crucial to Scotland's chances of making the finals in Sweden next summer.

Knowing where best to deploy Little has been a problem for Scotland coach Anna Signeul. The 21-year-old is a prolific scorer for her club, where she plays in an attacking midfield role, and in 2010 was the top scorer in England, with 47 goals in 36 games.

She has scored 19 times in 65 appearances at international level, often playing in a deeper role in a 4-4-2 formation. Tonight, if Signeul plays 4-4-2, she is likely to play up front with Glasgow City's Jane Ross, as Little's Arsenal team-mate, Jenny Beattie, has a back injury.

Little is a certainty for the GB Olympic team and also has Champions League semi-final games against Frankfurt in the next fortnight, but has no doubt where her priorities lie tonight.

"I definitely believe we can qualify for Sweden," she said. "I've been in three major championship campaigns before this one, and in the previous two we've come really close to qualifying. A few years ago we didn't have the fitness levels required, but now the players train five times a week and we can compete with any country."

Regarding her own preferred position, Little added: "At Arsenal we play 4-3-3 and I'm at the top of the attacking midfield triangle so I get more opportunities to go forward and shoot. I usually play a bit deeper for Scotland."

Tonight Signeul will put her faith in much the same team which went down 2-0 to France in Le Havre on Saturday night. That was largely a rearguard action, but tonight goals are required at Tynecastle.

If Little does move forward, Jo Love will move inside to partner Megan Sneddon in midfield. Hayley Lauder, injured for the French game, will return to the left flank, with Leanne Ross on the right.

Lauder has joined Little and Beattie in the paid ranks following her recent move from Spartans to Finnish club Aland United. She injured her knee in a pre-season friendly 10 days ago, but is confident she will be fit for tonight's game.

Tickets for the Ireland match, kick off 7pm, are available on the gate at Tynecastle tonight, priced £5 and £2.

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