Ex-Sunderland defender Steph Houghton chosen as England Women’s captain for World Cup qualifier

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FORMER Sunderland defender Steph Houghton has been named as the new England Women’s captain.

New head coach Mark Sampson has picked South Hetton’s Houghton as the permanent successor to Casey Stoney as England skipper and she will begin leading the team in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Montenegro, in Brighton.

Houghton, who has won 44 caps for her country, has captained the Three Lions three times under Sampson’s stewardship, while she will lead new club Manchester City when the Women’s Super League gets underway later this month.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Houghton.

“To wear an England shirt and to captain your country is something I’ve dreamed of since a little girl.

“All the captains I’ve played under such as Casey, Faye White and Kelly Smith have all really helped me throughout my career and it meant a lot. I know if I needed advice, I could go to any of them.

“On the pitch I just try to lead by example and do the best for my country.

“We have such a talented group of girls and to put on the armband and lead them out in a World Cup qualifier will be a tremendous honour.”

Houghton has emerged as a key figure for England after battling back from injury setbacks at the start of her career, which saw her miss both the 2007 World Cup and 2009 European Championships.

The 25-year-old netted three goals for the Great Britain side in the 2012 Olympics and will take over from Stoney, who is still in the squad for tomorrow’s game at the Amex Stadium.

“When I started as head coach I knew that I wanted a captain who would lead the side for a long time coming, as we build the team and work towards success,” said Sampson.

“Steph has many of the qualities needed to be an inspirational leader and the attributes that I want our team to epitomise. She’s honest, hard-working, ambitious and has a winning attitude.

“At 25, Steph also has the room and time to improve as a player and grow as a leader, which fits in perfectly with our vision for the team.

“She is being passed the armband by an incredible leader in Casey Stoney, who has been a fantastic England captain and ambassador for women’s football.

“I’ve spoken with Casey and she will be a great support for Steph moving forward.”