DCSIMG

England pair so sad for Steph

Sitting in their shared room on the 21st floor of the England team hotel in Shanghai, midfielder Jill Scott and goalkeeper Carly Telford are looking forward to playing in the Women's World Cup finals but also sparing a thought or two for their unlucky former Sunderland colleague Steph Houghton.

When the England team arrives at the Shanghai Hangzhou Stadium for tomorrow's first group match against Japan, Houghton will be back home nursing the broken leg she sustained a week after being named in the squad along with her two pals.

Scott, who still lives in Sunderland despite now playing for Everton, said: "I'm gutted for Steph, who really deserved her call-up.

"I'm sure she'll come back stronger, but right now that's no consolation to her."

Scott and her fellow 20-year-old Telford – who, along with Houghton, signed for Leeds in the summer following Sunderland's relegation from the top flight – have been involved in a hectic build-up to what will be England's first appearance for 12 years at the World Cup finals.

They have gone through a rigorous training programme that in the last three weeks has involved an acclimatisation programme in Macau, where matches were played in high humidity and temperatures approaching 40 degrees.

Unlike Houghton, however, there was some consolation for the hard worked England players.

Telford, who hails from Stanley, said: "We stayed near the world's biggest casino-hotel complex and had some fun there.

"I'd never been to a casino before so it was quite exciting, but I didn't have a flutter – unlike Jill, who lost a few quid! But we enjoyed ourselves there, as we did on the golf driving range next to our hotel."

After leaving Macau for China the players were shocked at the reception they received in Shanghai. Scott said: "There were TV cameras and reporters to greet us at the airport, then the team coach had a police escort to our hotel.

"We'll probably need a police escort to our matches as well because the traffic is horrendous – it's as mad as Piccadilly Circus wherever you go, and that's not exaggerating because we can see practically the whole of the city from our hotel."

Telford added: "The views from our room are fantastic and it's even more fantastic to be here, especially rooming with Jill who I've practically grown up with – we came through the Sunderland ranks together, played in the England youth teams together and now we're here at the World Cup finals together. It's unbelievable!"

Telford is hoping that her boyfriend, Matthew, will be able to fly out if England progress beyond the group stage, while Scott's father Brian and stepmother Carol have already made the long journey to watch England's early outings.

Tomorrow's opener against Japan will be England's first in a four-nation group which also includes Argentina and reigning champions Germany, who are joint favourites – with America – to lift the trophy.

With both the Germans and Japanese above them in the world rankings, England face a tough task.

But Scott said: "Our preparations have been spot-on and although we know it's going to be difficult, we're confident we can come through the group and qualify for the quarter-finals."

 
 
 

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