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Pressure on Swedes

SCOTLAND'S women footballers face their biggest game since losing a Euro 2013 play-off to Spain when they meet Sweden in a televised World Cup qualifier at Fir Park on Saturday.

Anna Signeul's side lead Group Four with maximum points from six games, while the Swedes, who are favourites to qualify for next year's finals in Canada, have 15 points from five. As Scotland have a much better goal difference, a home win would pile huge pressure on Sweden, who are ranked fifth in the world and third in Europe.

Four of the Scottish players, including defender Hayley Lauder, play for Swedish Damallsvenskan side Vittsjo. The left back, who turned 24 on Wednesday, is expected to win her 58th cap at Fir Park and is typical of this Scotland side - young, but very experienced at international level.

"None of the Swedish girls at Vittsjo are internationalists, so there isn't the banter and rivalry about the game on Saturday that you would otherwise expect," Lauder said.

"It's going to be very tough, but this is the best chance we've had against them. They beat us 4-1 in a friendly at Stark's Park two years ago, but we are fitter and stronger now than we've ever been.

"That means the gap between the two teams is closing. Technically and tactically we are an astute side, so in one-off games there is absolutely no reason why we can't take all three points."

Lauder shares an apartment with former Glasgow City striker Jane Ross, while the other two Scots at Vittsjo are experienced defender Ifeoma Dieke and goalkeeper Shannon Lynn, who is on loan from Hibs.

Swedish women's football was rocked on Thursday when leading club Tyreso, who only a fortnight ago lost 4-3 to Wolfsburg in the final of the Champions League, announced they had gone out of business. They had been paying their foreign stars, including the Brazilian Marta, inflated salaries and the Swedish FA had already banned them from playing in the Damallsvenskan next year.

"They disbanded with immediate effect," Lauder confirmed. "It's sad to see one of the top teams in the world collapse like that."

Five of the Tyreso players are in the Swedish squad for Saturday. With the club's fixtures all cancelled, none of them were in league action this weekend.

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