England skipper Steph Houghton lauds Lionesses' bond

Tuesday 25 Oct 2016
Steph Houghton celebrates her free-kick against Spain

Steph Houghton believes the bond among the current England squad is the strongest it has been since Mark Sampson took charge.

Sampson replaced former boss Hope Powell in December 2013 and named Houghton as captain in April 2014.

And the Lionesses skipper, who scored a free-kick to help her side pick up a 2-1 win over Spain on Tuesday, reckons England’s upturn in fortunes is in no small part down to the players’ connection.

Houghton said: “We are in a really good place. This is probably the most together squad we have had over the last three years.

“We are always wanting to learn, we have got fresh blood in the camp, with a lot of experience as well, so it is about blending them together and making sure that every game we play we learn and we improve.

“We have got eight months now until the Euros, and hopefully we can be the best-prepared team there.”

Houghton played every game in England’s successful Euro 2017 qualifying campaign.

England

 

England's line-up to face Spain in Guadalajara

Sampson’s charges topped Group 7 unbeaten and are among the top seeds for the finals draw which takes place in Rotterdam on Tuesday 8 November.

The win over Spain was just England’s second match since they secured their place at next summer’s showpiece, following Friday night’s 0-0 draw with France in Doncaster.

Houghton said of the win in Guadalajara: “We dominated possession in the first half and controlled the game.

“In the second half it was a different side to us and we were a little bit fatigued, but we wanted to come here and get a win.”

She was also delighted to have registered her ninth international goal.

“My job is to keep clean sheets but it was about time I got [a goal] for England.

“I’ve had a few chances so I was just glad to see it go in the back of net.”

England’s final match of 2017 is away to Euro 2017 hosts Netherlands on Tuesday 29 November.

By Glenn Lavery in Guadalajara, Spain