The revolution in the women’s game moved on another stage when Steph Houghton was made England captain by new coach Mark Sampson.
The 25-year-old, who led Arsenal to a cup double last season, and was made Manchester City captain upon switching clubs this winter, will lead England out against Montenegro at Brighton this afternoon.
Houghton led England twice this spring while former captain Casey Stoney, 31, was injured, but with Stoney back in the squad, Sampson has made Houghton’s leadership permanent.
“I wanted a captain who would lead the side for a long time coming,” 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.”
Saturday’s match at the Amex Stadium is Sampson’s sixth match but his first at home and his first World Cup qualifier. With four wins from four under caretaker Brent Hills, England are already well placed to reach Canada next year and Montenegro, pointless after three games, should be easily beaten. “Our focus must be in respecting our opponents and playing as close to possible to our highest standards,” said Sampson.
Having called up 34 players, nine of them uncapped, and enjoyed the luxury of two extended spells away with the players, this match should finally reveal Sampson’s preferred starting XI.