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Steph Houghton says England can handle pressure in bid for major tournament win

England Women Media Day – St George’s Park
(Image credit: Nigel French)

England Women captain Steph Houghton has no issue with the public pressure put on the national team by Baroness Sue Campbell.

Baroness Campbell, the Football Association’s director of women’s football, said on Monday that it would be a failure if England do not win either Euro 2022, where they will be the home nation, or the 2023 World Cup.

England have never won a major tournament but have reached the semi-finals at the last three big international events.

Houghton said: “As players, the expectation we put on ourselves, individually and as a team, is that whenever we enter a tournament we want to go and win.

“We’ve been so close over the last three major tournaments and that was because our mindset was always to win and, for one reason or another, we didn’t get to that final stage.

“But, whether it’s the Olympics, the Euros or the World Cup after that, I think for us as a team we’re doing everything possible to make sure that we give ourselves the best chance of winning, whether that’s physically, tactically, technically, we’re trying to improve all the time.

“Regardless of what’s been said, for us as a group of players, the expectation that we put on ourselves is probably far greater than what anyone else does.”

Baroness Campbell was speaking at the launch of a new four-year strategy for the women’s game in England.

The Women’s Super League has seen an influx of high-profile global talent this season, particularly from the USA, and Houghton said: “For us it’s important to continue the growth of every part of this game to make it the best in the world.

“You’ve seen over the last few years, especially with the growth of our league and the players we’re attracting, the standard of the football that we are playing is probably the best in the world.”

Houghton was speaking ahead of England’s first game since March against Germany next Tuesday.

An England squad with a notable mix of youth and experience have been training together at St George’s Park and will take part in an in-house training game on Friday before travelling to Wiesbaden.

Alessia Russo has withdrawn from the England squad

Alessia Russo has withdrawn from the England squad (John Walton/PA)

The last competitive action for Phil Neville’s side was the She Believes Cup, where they beat Japan but lost to the USA and Spain, while they will hope for revenge against Germany after a last-minute defeat in front of a record crowd at Wembley a year ago.

Houghton said: “Obviously it’s been a long time coming. We’re excited just to get back playing a game and obviously the fact it’s against Germany makes it even more exciting, them being second in the world.

“It’s going to be a tough game for us but at the same time we just want to get out there and play football.”

Meanwhile, Manchester United forward Alessia Russo has withdrawn from the squad because of a thigh injury and will be replaced by her club team-mate Katie Zelem.