Scott and Houghton in England squad for European Championship

Steph Houghton.
Steph Houghton.
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Wearsiders Jill Scott and Steph Houghton are both in England’s squad for next month’s European Championship in Sweden.

England women’s team manager Hope Powell feels her 23-strong squad of youth and experience can make a real impact at next month’s European Championship in Sweden.

Rachel Brown and Kelly Smith will be heading into their sixth major tournament, while the likes of captain Casey Stoney, Arsenal forward Smith, Fara Williams and Rachel Yankey all have more than a century of caps.

Liverpool duo Gemma Bonner and Lucy Bronze are the only two uncapped players within the squad. Toni Duggan, of Everton, Birmingham duo Jordan Nobbs and Jade Moore are also set for a first taste of senior international tournament football, having helped the under-19s win their European Championship in Belarus four years ago.

There are significant absentees, however, as left-backs Rachel Unitt and Claire Rafferty miss out because of knee injuries.

England were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign, and are ranked fourth for Europe in the FIFA world rankings.

Powell hopes that momentum will continue into Sweden, where they will be in a group with Spain, Russia and France.

“A lot of players in this squad have appeared in major tournaments before and that experience will certainly serve them well in Sweden,” she said.

“We will need that experience because we are in a very tough group, but looking at the amount of caps this squad has amassed, I don’t think there is any reason for them to be fazed.

“It is about them performing and using their experience to help both themselves and the other players.”

Powell feels all 23 players will be set for an invaluable experience in Sweden.

She said: “It is well documented that we have an issue with injured defenders, so Gemma and Lucy give us extra cover and both of them have done really well for Liverpool this season.

“More importantly they will get the experience of being in a senior tournament, as will Toni, Jordan and Jade.

“Any of them may be required to play, but if not they’ll have that experience for the future.”

Despite England’s fine qualifying campaign, Powell insists her team will have to raise their game again to progress to the quarter-finals.

“You go into major tournaments and the idea is you want to win it,” she continued.

“I am under no illusion, though; everybody else has the same agenda and we recognise that it’s going to be tough.

“The competition between teams is at a level it has never been before. The gap between ‘the best’ and ‘the rest’ is getting closer.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Germany will win it.

“Historically they have been such a powerful nation and they have won this tournament on countless occasions, but this year I think they have got as good a chance as anyone else.

“The ambition is to get to the final and we know it will be a tall order. But we have to deal with the group stage first and take it one game at a time.

“We will have to be at our best throughout.”

England, who lost to Germany at the last senior European finals, will play two friendly matches before their opening match on July 12 against Spain, tackling world champions Japan at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on June 26 and then hosts Sweden in a friendly on July 4 in Uddevalla.

England Women Euro 2013 Squad: Bardsley (Lincoln Ladies), Brown-Finnis (Everton), Chamberlain (Bristol Academy); Bassett (Birmingham), Bonner (Liverpool), Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Bronze (Liverpool), Houghton (Arsenal), A Scott (Arsenal), Stoney (Lincoln Ladies); Susi (Chelsea), Asante (Gothenburg), Carney (Birmingham), Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Moore (Birmingham), Nobbs (Arsenal), J Scott (Everton), Williams (Liverpool), Yankey (Arsenal); Aluko (Chelsea), Duggan (Everton), Smith (Arsenal), White (Arsenal).