Houghton calls for focus

Steph Houghton says taking on Sweden will act as the perfect preparation for England Women’s World Cup qualifier against Wales later this month.

The Lionesses are training at St. George’s Park in preparation for Sunday’s fixture against the side who sit fifth in the FIFA rankings, and speaking after the first training session, captain Houghton said a game against such high calibre opposition is just what they need.

“It’s probably a perfect test for us ahead of the Wales qualifier,” she said. 

England v Sweden

A Women’s International
2pm, Sunday 3 August 2014
Victoria Park, Hartlepool United FC
Call 01429 272 584 for tickets

“We’ve got a team full of world class individuals and as a team we want to be playing against those types of players.

“It’s about a winning mentality. The games we go into we want to win and we want to win well and we want to perform, it’s all about playing for your places still.”

Although a friendly by name, Houghton also emphasised that the players are approaching the game with the utmost professionalism – and admitted they face a challenge if they are to keep their good form going.

“It’s important that when we’re in training it’s really competitive and we take that into the game, especially on Sunday,” added Houghton.

“They’ve got players that can win football matches. Obviously Lotta Schelin plays up front for them and she’s been a massive name in women’s football for a good few years.

“They’re direct, they’re quick, skilful – a mixture really – and I think it’s about how we cope with that both tactically and technically. It’s also about how we move the ball and defend as a unit.”

Houghton, who left Arsenal to join newly formed Manchester City in January 2014, hails from Durham, just 18 miles north-west of Hartlepool’s Victoria Park where the fixture will be played.

And although admitting that leading her country out in front of a local crowd will be an honour, Houghton and her fellow four north-easterners in the squad will quickly put it out of their minds when the game gets underway.

“All the north-east girls have been pushing for a fixture up north for a long time and it obviously makes it a lot easier when your friends and family can come and watch you play,” she admitted. 

“But the most important part of it is the actual game. We’re playing Sweden and it’s going to be a good test for us and hopefully we’ll have a big crowd coming to support us.”

Tickets for the match are on sale now priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is available at £10 and group booking discounts apply.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 01429 272 584 (option 2), via TheFA.com’s ticketing page or at the Hartlepool United ticket office.

Squad in full

Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), Carly Telford* (Notts County).

Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), Lucy Bronze (Liverpool), Alex Greenwood (Everton), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (University of South Florida).

Laura Bassett (Chelsea), Jade Moore (Birmingham City), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Liverpool), Jo Potter** (Birmingham City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal).

Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Jess Clarke (Notts County), Natasha Dowie (Liverpool), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Reading), Lianne Sanderson (Boston Breakers), Jodie Taylor (Washington Spirit).

* replaced Rachel Brown-Finnis
** replaced Dunia Susi