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Women's Football Steph Houghton believes England can do ‘something special’ in France

ENGLAND captain Steph Houghton believes this side is heading to France wanting to “go and win,” which would do wonders for the game in England.

Part of the side that fell dramatically in the World Cup semi-finals in 2015, Houghton then led England to the SheBelieves Cup in March.

That led to fans and journalists believing this iteration of England have what it takes to go all the way next month, and the defender agrees.

When asked if England can win the World Cup, Houghton replied emphatically: “Yes.

“I’ve been in plenty of squads in terms of World Cups and European Championships and all have had different strengths.

“And I think for this one especially we have the right blend of youth and experience, we have players who have played in top pressure games where you have to go and win, and I feel we have a squad that wants to go and win and has that winning mentality to go and do something special in France.”

The last decade has seen the women’s game in England grow exponentially.

Manchester United entered a team into the Women’s Championship and went on to win it, meaning they will play in the Women’s Super League next season.

An England World Cup win could take the game in Britain to another level and Houghton sees it as another opportunity to inspire the next generation of Lionesses. 

“It would be absolutely amazing.

“It would be a dream come true for us as players but for the game as a whole — I think you saw what happened in 2015 — success does bring interest and allow young girls to dream of being a footballer, and now there’s a pathway to go and do that.

“For us, our focus is on doing as well as we possibly can and making sure that, no matter what, we give it our everything when we’re over there.”

England travel to France with a Champions League winner and runner-up in Lyon’s Lucy Bronze and Barcelona’s Toni Duggan, highlighting the talent Phil Neville has at his disposal.

In Nikita Parris, England have a player who is leaving WSL side Manchester City to join Bronze in Lyon.

Houghton, a now former teammate of Parris, praised the striker and noted that it can only be good for England.

Houghton said: “It’s important for Manchester City to keep the best players, but at the same time, as a teammate of Nikita and a friend, I wish her all the best at Lyon.

“And for us to have some of our squad playing for the likes of Lyon, Barca, or in America, we’re all playing good football games, in high-pressured environments, and when we come back together with England that only drives the standard of our training.

“It pushes you be a better player, playing against those kind of players, so it can can only be a good thing for the national team.”

Competing for a place either alongside or instead of Parris, Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is aware that her season has been disrupted by injury but is confident that she is now fully fit.

Her hamstring and knee problems have “completely … been dealt with.

“I think now I’m in the best shape I have been all year. It’s the first time this year really that I’ve been able to play without any pain. So I’m in a good place looking forward to the World Cup.”

Bronze, another player who was a part of the 2015 squad, is keen to make the final.

Having won the Champions League with Lyon last week, the former City player is eager for more trophies.

“The goal is for the gold. The goal is to make the final. I don’t see why we can’t make it. I would say I’m still on a high from a successful club domestic year and I want to carry that on and keep winning trophies.

“We’ve got a really talented bunch of young players. I think my age group was the hard-working age group and now we’ve got this group of players who are really confident, they’ve got the ability, they’re ready for a World Cup — they’re not scared of anything.

“They all play for top teams, they’ve won trophies already. We’ve got a really good group of players but the young ones are definitely going to be some of the ones making the difference for us next month.”

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