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Rio Ferdinand backs Steph Houghton to overcome Achilles injury and be fit for home Euros this summer

Steph Houghton
England captain Steph Houghton has been backed to stave off injury worries to star at the UEFA Women's EURO England 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Rio Ferdinand reckons Lionesses captain fantastic Steph Houghton can do a David Beckham and stave off injury worries to star at the UEFA Women's EURO England 2022.

Achilles issues have struck 121-cap stalwart Houghton at the worst possible time, keeping her out of five England internationals and threatening her hopes of glory on home soil.

Ferdinand watched Manchester United team-mates Beckham and Wayne Rooney battle through injuries to play key roles at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

The iconic central defender is backing Houghton to turn it around in time for the major tournament that opens at Old Trafford on July 6.

“From my own experience with England, we’ve brought our top players back before,” said Ferdinand.

“David Beckham, Wayne Rooney – big important players who have had injuries going into tournaments. There are pros and cons and ultimately, it’s all about her fitness.

Carnaby Street

London's Carnaby Street has been transformed into a giant table football table to mark 100 days until the start of the UEFA Women's EURO England 2022 (Image credit: Sportsbeat)

“If the manager deems her fit enough and mentally in the right place, that experience will be vital.”

Interest in women’s football is booming with a season-high Super League crowd of 20,241 watching Manchester United beat Everton at Old Trafford.

With 100 days to go until England play Austria in the curtain-raiser, tickets are now on sale and more than 350,000 seats were sold in the pre-sale period alone.

“We’ve already broken records and we are looking to break even more this summer,” he said.

“The tournament is vitally important. We’ve seen in the past how tournaments bring families and nations together, so we’re here to push and amplify the women’s game.”

Sarina Wiegman’s England will be fancied to go deep in the tournament but the explosion of the club game in Spain makes them early favourites, led by Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

Former winners Germany, Spain and Netherlands will also be aiming for the final on July 31.

England drew 0-0 with Spain in February and beat Germany 3-1 to lift the Arnold Clark Cup, a huge confidence boost in their bid to win the Euros for the first time. 

They have been runners-up on two occasions, at the inaugural edition in 1984 and in 2009, reaching the semi-finals last time out in 2017.

“A home tournament brings loads of pressure for England but there’s excitement as well,” said Ferdinand.

Rio Ferdinand

Former England star Rio Ferdinand has backed Houghton to be fit for the Euros (Image credit: Getty Images)

“We saw with the men’s team last year - they weren’t necessarily one of the favourites, but the home support is a leveller.

“There are strong sides in there and it will be difficult, but fact England are at home means we’re a team that none of the others will want to face, especially in the knockout stages.”

Ferdinand never got the chance to grace a major tournament on home soil.

The closest he got was attending two games as a fan at EURO 96, and his excitement is palpable at the opportunity that the Lionesses have ahead of them this summer.

“The players just need to enjoy it,” he said. “They’re the best days of your life and memories that will live with you forever.

“The energy and excitement around 96 was amazing – that feeling has never left me.”

Tickets for UEFA Women's EURO England 2022 are on sale now. Visit: www.uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing (opens in new tab) The tournament takes place across nine cities in England from 6-31st July 2022.

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James Andrew is the editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing both the magazine and website. James is an NCTJ qualified journalist and began his career as a news reporter in regional newspapers in 2006 before moving into sport a year later. In 2011 he started a six year stint on the sports desk at of the Daily Mail and MailOnline. He was appointed editor of FourFourTwo in December 2019. Across his career James has interviewed the likes of Franco Baresi, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham and Michael Owen. James has been a Fulham season ticket holder since the mid-1990s and enjoys watching them home and away, through promotion and relegation.