Steph Houghton: Manchester City defender to continue England captaincy for World Cup double-header

Sarina Wiegman was appointed as Phil Neville's successor in August 2020, but only started the role at the beginning of this month, after leading the Netherlands through their Olympic campaign this summer; a permanent captain is expected to be named after this international break

Steph Houghton has been England captain since being appointed by Mark Sampson in January 2014
Image: Steph Houghton has been England captain since being appointed by Mark Sampson in January 2014

Steph Houghton will continue her England captaincy for the next two internationals after talks with new head coach Sarina Wiegman – but a permanent Lionesses captain is still to be appointed.

Wiegman was appointed as Phil Neville's successor in August 2020, but only started the role at the beginning of this month, after leading the Netherlands through their Olympic campaign this summer.

Her first game in charge is the World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium on September 17, before the Lionesses travel away to face Luxembourg on Tuesday.

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New England Women manager Sarina Wiegman says she is looking forward to getting to know her new players after selecting her first squad

The 51-year-old is expected to name her permanent captain after this international break after spending an extended period with her new squad.

It means Houghton retains the armband for now - a role she has had since initially being appointed by Mark Sampson in January 2014.

Houghton told Sky Sports News: "We've had a conversation. Fortunately I am the captain for the next couple of games, which is amazing, but we are realistic that she's getting to know the group and how we work as a team.

"For me personally it's an unbelievable honour to lead the team that I normally have done over the last few years, but regardless of whether I have the armband or not I'll still be the same leader.

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Asked if she wants to lead England out at next summer's Euros, she added: "Yes of course. For me there's no better feeling than playing for your country.

"I've been given the armband for the last five, six years. Every time I do that it's an amazing moment for me and my family, and to be able to lead these girls out is an absolute honour.

"I'll respect whatever decision she [Wiegman] makes. No matter what, you'll get the same person with or without the armband."

Houghton said the camp is "buzzing" now Wiegman is finally in charge more than a year after she was named the Lionesses' new boss.

"We only met up yesterday, it was nice to finally meet the new manager," Houghton added. "The impressions are obviously very good, the camp is lively and everyone is buzzing to get to work.

"We've spoken about her coming in for over a year. Now she's finally here everyone wants to get their head down and learn as much as we can from her."

Wiegman's first squad is already without the services of the experienced Lucy Bronze due to injury, as well as fellow Manchester City trio Keira Walsh, Ellie Roebuck and Esme Morgan.

Morgan's hopes of an England debut were dashed after she was stretchered off in the early stages of City's 2-1 defeat by Tottenham at the Academy Stadium on Sunday with what has turned out to be a shin injury.

England Women's squad

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Everton), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Jessica Carter (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Jill Scott (Manchester City), Lucy Staniforth (Manchester United), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)

Forwards: Bethany England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Ebony Salmon (Racing Louisville), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City)

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