England’s Steph Houghton in race to be fit for European Championship

  • Head coach Sarina Wiegman: ‘It’s going to be very tight’
  • Beth England brought in for April World Cup qualifiers

Sarina Wiegman has acknowledged that the England captain, Steph Houghton, is in a race to be fit for the European Championship finals this summer.

“It’s going to be very tight,” the England manager said as she named a 24-strong squad for the World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia in Skopje and Northern Ireland in Belfast next month. “She’s had a tremendous CV with us so I hope she’ll make it but first of all she needs to start training again.”

After captaining England to the semi-finals of their past three major tournaments, Houghton is desperate to be involved in the July showpiece on home soil but the central defender has barely played for Manchester City this season and underwent achilles surgery last month.

Although she turns 34 next month and, because of injuries, has not played under the manager, Houghton remains sufficiently important to the Lionesses for Wiegman to give her until the last minute to prove her fitness.

“We can give her a little more time because of the history she has with this group, over the years,” Wiegman said. “She’s been out for a long time but she came back in January and played well before then having to step out again. Her competitive instinct is really high and she’s doing everything she can to try and make the Euros, so we’ll see. She has a clear plan and we’re in contact all the time.”

Sarina Wiegman is looking towards this summer’s Euros while also trying to qualify for the 2023 World Cup.
Sarina Wiegman is looking towards this summer’s Euros while also trying to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images

Wiegman said the squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers was “close” to the group she hopes will contest the Euros but indicated there could be a place for the Manchester winger Chloe Kelly should she prove her fitness after major knee surgery.

“The door is not closed to any other player but if anyone else comes in now it probably means we made the wrong decisions earlier,” Wiegman joked before explaining she was keeping a “close eye” on Kelly. “She’s had a pretty tough injury, an ACL. Hopefully, she will play again very soon – that’s what we expect. We know how good she was before she got injured but it will probably take a little time for her to get back to the level she’s capable of.”

Goalkeepers Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City).

Defenders Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal).

Midfielders Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanaway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Katie Zelem (Manchester United).

Forwards Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City).

Although Fran Kirby remains integral to England’s ambitions this summer, Chelsea’s attacking playmaker has been omitted from this squad. Kirby has not featured in her club’s past six matches and Emma Hayes, Chelsea’s manager, recently said the 28-year-old needed a break after an intense schedule.

“Fran Kirby’s not ready to play,” said Wiegman. “We don’t know yet but we hope she’ll be back on the pitch pretty soon.”

With England having won all six qualifiers to date as they look to confirm their attendance at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, breaking into the squad is not easy but the Chelsea striker Beth England will hope to prove undroppable after replacing Kirby.


Louise Taylor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
If she is ready, Steph Houghton deserves her place in England’s Euro 2022 squad | Suzanne Wrack
The Manchester City defender’s inclusion in the provisional squad has caused debate but big match experience could prove vital

Suzanne Wrack

11, Jun, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Steph Houghton out but Fran Kirby in England squad for Euro 2022
The England manager, Sarina Wiegman, has said it was a ‘hard decision’ to omit Steph Houghton from her 23-player squad for Euro 2022

Suzanne Wrack

15, Jun, 2022 @5:40 PM

Article image
Nobbs to miss Euros but Houghton and Kirby in provisional England squad
Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs will miss the Euros with a knee injury that has led to her omission from the 28-player provisional England squad

Suzanne Wrack

17, May, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
England’s Carter determined to shut out Norway’s formidable front three
The Chelsea defender knows she needs to be ‘tight’ and ‘aggressive’ to counter visitors’ attacking threat in England’s second Group A game

Suzanne Wrack

10, Jul, 2022 @6:30 PM

Article image
England’s Sarina Wiegman to avoid big changes for Northern Ireland game
The England manager, Sarina Wiegman, said she is focused on ‘rhythm’ for the game against Northern Ireland and has got her players practising penalties

Suzanne Wrack

14, Jul, 2022 @6:29 PM

Article image
England’s gritty win against Spain bodes well for Euro 2022 chances | Karen Carney
Having dug deep for their quarter-final victory, the Lionesses are better equipped to win the tournament

Karen Carney

22, Jul, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
England’s Steph Houghton ready to make history against Germany
The captain can’t wait to be the first to lead out an England women’s side at Wembley when the European champions visit London on Sunday, she tells James Riach

James Riach

21, Nov, 2014 @4:36 PM

Article image
Just the ticket: Ella Toone splashes out for England’s Old Trafford opener
The Manchester United player and fan Ella Toone has revealed she will have 36 friends and family members at Old Trafford on Wednesday – after paying for 24 seats

Peter Lansley

04, Jul, 2022 @4:00 PM

Article image
Lucy Bronze reveals she is playing through pain in England’s Euros journey
Lucy Bronze has revealed she has been playing through pain on the way to a first major tournament final

Suzanne Wrack

27, Jul, 2022 @4:00 PM

Article image
Now come and watch us with our clubs, England’s Toone urges new fans
Ella Toone has appealed to the half a million fans who have cheered the Lionesses on to Euro 2022 glory to support them at WSL games

Peter Lansley

01, Aug, 2022 @9:59 AM