Door ‘never closed’ for Houghton, says Wiegman | The Express Tribune


LONDON:

Former England captain Steph Houghton has a slim chance of making the women’s World Cup squad but the door is “never closed” on a potential return, coach Sarina Wiegman said on Monday.

Houghton had said it had been mentally tough to deal with her exclusion from the national team but added she would keep “knocking the door” for the World Cup which will be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20.

The 34-year-old centre back has 121 international caps but last played for England in 2021, as she dealt with an Achilles injury and underwent surgery in February 2022.

“She’s in a hard position. The chances are not that high,” Wiegman said ahead of Tuesday’s friendly match against Australia. “Steph is a very good, experienced player who I have lots of respect for. I have respect for what she has done for her country, but I have players in that position that I don’t want to take out because I think they have performed really well. But I will never close the door because when you are in international football you want everyone to be available.”

The Lionesses beat Brazil in a penalty shootout in the inaugural Women’s Finalissima last week and Wiegman said they would not be making many changes against Australia, who are ranked 10th in the world.

However, she is wary of prolific Chelsea forward Sam Kerr who was on the substitutes bench in their 1-0 loss to Scotland.

“I think they rested her for tomorrow,” Wiegman said. “Australia have had some very good results and I don’t think the game against Scotland really represents what they have done. They’re very physical, they’ve very direct and of course they have Kerr up front.”

Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to the 2017 European Championship before helping England claim their first major title at the Euros last year, said she does not feel any pressure in her second stint as a World Cup manager.

“I don’t feel more pressure, I am coaching a different country now. We want to be the best we can be. We work every day to improve and that is what we will be focussing on,” she said.

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