Steph Houghton keen to embrace Far East experience

Wednesday 21 Oct 2015
Steph Houghton is looking forward to enjoying the trip to China
Steph Houghton says England will embrace the Far East experience after the Lionesses landed in Chongqing for the CFA International Women’s Football Tournament.

Mark Sampson’s squad will take on the host nation and Australia over the next seven days.

And England skipper Houghton says her team-mates are ready to make the most of the Chinese culture.

She said: "Coming to such a different country like China is great for us in terms of the experience. It’s really noisy and really busy here and we’re not even in the main city.

Steph Houghton

England captain Steph Houghton is looking forward to two hard games in China

"It was a long journey to get here and we’ve got a limited amount of time to prepare for the first game, but the long journey and adjusting to the time difference – they are things that can bring the squad and staff together.

"The opportunity to play against two top-20 nations will be vitally important for every player in the squad.

"Coming across different challenges like this can only help us develop as international players and as a team. It’s a challenge and an experience we want to embrace."

England will take on China on Friday (9am BST kick-off) before tackling Australia next Tuesday (8am GMT kick-off), two testing games given both nations reached the knockout stages at this summer’s World Cup.

The Lionesses have faced both teams already this year, defeating the Matildas 3-0 in the Cyprus Cup a month before goals from Jodie Taylor and Fran Kirby gave England a 2-1 victory over China in Manchester.


Lioness Alex Scott in action against China earlier this year

"We got off to a great start against China in Manchester, but we know they are a very good side and are good on the ball," added the Manchester City star.

"They like to get their midfielders on the ball so we will have to deal with their threats while also imposing ourselves on them.

"And we saw how good Australia are at the World Cup. They were very unfortunate not to reach the semi-final. They are a very powerful side and they have got pace all over the pitch.

"These are exactly the type of tough games we need to be playing ahead of the Euro Qualifier against Bosnia and the game against Germany."

Some players from Arsenal and Notts County have not been selected in this squad due to their participation in the Continental Tyres Cup Final on Sunday 1 November.

This has allowed Sampson to call up four new players – Chelsea trio Hannah Blundell, Drew Spence and Laura Coombs and Sunderland striker Beth Mead.

Watch highlights of England's victory over China earlier this year

And Houghton reckons the competition for places will be good for the squad in the long run.

She added: "That just highlights the number of players that Mark has to choose from and how competitive the League is becoming.

"Credit to the new girls. They have fitted in straight away. They have performed really well for their clubs and that’s what has got them here.

"Now they have got a week of good training and two games to show what they can do.

"New players coming in will make the squad more competitive and that’s exactly what we need to help take us to the next level."

By Glenn Lavery in Chongqing