August 12, 2022

Steph Houghton hasn’t played for England since Sarina Wiegman’s appointment in September

Steph Houghton has not been included in England’s 23-man Women’s Euro squad.

Houghton, who captained England for eight years, has not played since January with an Achilles tendon injury.

The Manchester City defender has made 121 appearances for England, including five major tournaments.

“It was a tough decision. She’s just not ready to compete. It was only a matter of time and we don’t have that time,” manager Sarina Wiegman said.

“We put a plan in place for her and she did everything she could do. We supported her as best we could. It’s really difficult for every player we’ve had to disappoint.

“She’s such a great player and she had such an impact on the English game. Of course, she was really, really disappointed.”

Midfielder Jill Scott has been called up and will play in her 10th major tournament despite being injured at the end of the season.

Wiegman said Scott continued training late in the season to get back into shape and was “in a good position now.”

“She plays on the pitch and she brings something to our game. As a person, she’s so bright, always looks relaxed and makes people smile. She can share whatever experience she has,” Wiegman added.

Chelsea striker Fran Kirby was also selected despite struggling with fatigue and not having played since February.

Of the 28-woman provisional squad named in May, goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, defender Niamh Charles and midfielders Katie Zelem and Lucy Staniforth missed the final selection.

England’s all-time top scorer, Ellen White, will play in her third successive Euros.

Manchester City striker Chloe Kelly has been included after recovering from a serious knee injury and will be one of nine players to feature in their first major tournament.

She hasn’t played under Wiegman yet but the Dutchman is “excited” to see what Kelly can do in the tournament.

“[Kelly] grew and grew. She’s horny and we’re horny. We have three warm-up games, so hopefully we can see her a bit more.”

The Lionesses, who host the tournament, are in Group A for the Euros with Austria – their first opponents on July 6 – Norway and Northern Ireland.

Teams will be able to make changes to their squad due to illness or injury up until the first game.

England face Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland in friendlies this month.

“I’m excited about what’s possible for this group. We all know it’s a huge opportunity and it’s one we need to seize with both hands,” Wiegman said.

“The chance to represent the nation on such a big home stage is an opportunity to be savored. So far, this group has proven they are ready to give their all in every training session, every meeting and every game. match.

“Making the final selection is always difficult because we know the talent and commitment of each player. I’m sure those we had to disappoint will give everything to support us and be ready if called upon.”

“Good decision for the evolution of the Lionesses”

Everton midfielder Izzy Christensen said today’s squad announcement will cause “real heartache” for Houghton.

“I’ve personally been in this situation before and it will take him weeks to digest it,” Christensen told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Sarina Wiegman is a winner and she was brought in by the FA to make big decisions, and this is one of them.

“These decisions are a step in the right decision for the evolution of the Lionesses to get to a major tournament final and get their hands on a major trophy.”

Christensen, who has 31 England caps, added Scott’s inclusion in the squad was positive: “She provides cover and she also brings threat, you talk about tournament football and the need to get some winners or last-minute equalizers to progress – Jill is a player you can put on with 10 minutes left to win some headers.”

Despite struggling with fatigue this season, Christensen believes Kirby’s ability to create chances is “something no other England player has or has had for many years”.

She added: “If Fran is well placed and has some time to fit into the tournament, she may be able to peak for the start of the tournament.”

Analysis

Emma Sanders, BBC Sport

Wiegman has made several key decisions since taking charge in September – naming Leah Williamson tournament captain and now excluding Houghton from her Euro squad.

The Manchester City defender was still facing a battle to prove her fitness and with centre-backs Millie Bright, Jess Carter and Alex Greenwood impressing for club and country this season, she had stiff competition.

Scott and White have plenty of tournament experience, while Williamson and Bright are among those who have brought leadership to the team.

With Lauren Hemp and Beth Mead, England have forwards in impressive form, while the inclusion of Chloe Kelly is an exciting wildcard.

The players left out of the squad – Staniforth, Zelem, Charles, Houghton and MacIver only played 46 minutes in total under Wiegman, so it’s hardly surprising to see them omitted from the final squad selection.

Team list

Guardians: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City).

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (unattached), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jill Scott (unattached), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal).

Forwards: Beth England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City).

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