Ex-Sunderland Ladies star Steph Houghton set for major international milestone

Steph Houghton celebrates England's World Cup qualification
Steph Houghton celebrates England's World Cup qualification
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While large parts of Wearside will have their eyes on Port Vale this Sunday, one corner of Sunderland will have their gazes firmly fixed elsewhere.

For this weekend will see former Sunderland Ladies defender - and current England captain - Steph Houghton rack up her 100th cap for her country.

The South Hetton-born centre back will reach her England century at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium this weekend as the Lionesses prepare to take on Sweden in preparation for next summer’s World Cup.

The milestone comes after Houghton has offered more than a decade’s worth of service to the national team, having made her debut for the side while still playing for the Lady Black Cats in 2007.

Now, the North East native is set to become only the eleventh player to rack up 100 caps for England’s women - although the landmark could have come long before.

Injuries curtailed Houghton’s early international career and saw her miss out on a place in the 2007 World Cup squad, depriving her of some early caps.

Since then, though, she has become a regular and scooped the captaincy in 2013 before retaining it after Phil Neville’s appointment as manager this year.

And ahead of the clash with Sweden on Sunday (1:30pm kick-off), Neville is keen to make it a day to remember for his ‘humble’ captain.

“I want to make Sunday a special day, he said.

“She’s so humble, she doesn’t want a celebration, she doesn’t want it to be about her.

“She’s earnt her 100th cap and deserves it and Sunday will be a celebration of her England international career.”

Regardless of any result. there will be celebrations aplenty for that corner of South Hetton - and rightly so.