Steph Houghton is left OUT of the England squad for Women’s Euro 2022 amid injury struggles, but coach Sarina Wiegman picks Fran Kirby – who has not played since February – for tournament on home turf this summer
- Sarina Wiegman has narrowed down her England squad from 28 players to 23
- Steph Houghton, who was captain at the 2019 World Cup, has been left out
- Wiegman described the call to leave out Houghton as a ‘really hard decision’
- Niamh Charles, Katie Zelem, Lucy Staniforth and Sandy MacIver are the other unlucky players to miss out on a place in the final squad
- There is a place, however, for Fran Kirby – who has not played since February
Sarina Wiegman admitted leaving England legend Steph Houghton out of her 23-player squad for the Women’s Euros was a ‘really hard’ decision but insisted the veteran defender is ‘just not ready to compete’.
Houghton had faced a race against time to be fit for this summer’s tournament after undergoing surgery on an achilles injury in February. She made the 28-player provisional squad last month but has not been able to prove her fitness.
The 34-year-old has captained the Lionesses at their last three tournaments and has 121 caps, but Wiegman left no room for sentiment.
Sarina Wiegman has left England legend Steph Houghton out of her squad for the Euros
Houghton has 121 caps, but Wiegman has left no room for sentiment in her selection
‘That was a hard decision but I think she’s just not ready to compete. We set a plan in place with her and she did everything she could do and we supported her as well as possible. She came into training in a very good place but she’s just not ready to compete I think. It’s just a matter of time and we don’t have that time.
‘It was really hard, it was hard for every player that we have to disappoint. But of course she is just such a big player, has made such an impact on the England game and she did everything, but other players did everything too.
GOALKEEPERS: Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Hannah Hampton
DEFENDERS: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes, Lotte Wubben-Moy.
MIDFIELDERS: Fran Kirby, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh, Leah Williamson (C)
FORWARDS: Beth England, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Alessia Russo, Ellen White.
‘I think she needs rhythm and she needs playing time. Normally when you build up you have two or three games to build that up in minutes but every person is different. Every person reacts differently, some come back quickly, some take more time.’
Wiegman acknowledged it had been a difficult conversation with England’s former captain, who last week said she was ready to return.
‘Of course she was really disappointed and I know she did everything to make it so she wasn’t happy. She just took the arguments I gave her and we left it for now and we’ll be in contact later.
‘You have respect for each other and you have open, honest conversations. Yes, of course it’s emotional but the best thing is to give honest answers and give the football arguments and bring that across.
‘She has a lot of experience but in this squad we have other players who can share experiences with the team, so it’s just the 23.’
Wiegman has a history of making bold decisions. While manager of the Netherlands at Euro 2017, she dropped her captain Mandy van den Berg after their second group game and she did not feature again until the final – where she made a brief two-minute cameo.
Niamh Charles, Katie Zelem, Lucy Staniforth and Sandy MacIver are the other unlucky players to miss out on a place in the final squad.
There is room, however, for Fran Kirby – who has not played since February due to a fatigue-related illness.
There is a place for Fran Kirby who hasn’t played since February due to a fatigue-related illness
Arsenal’s Leah Williamson will captain England at the tournament on home soil this summer
‘She is doing well. She has been in training for a while, she has been in camp with us, she has been in training and played training games and is ready to compete.’
Jill Scott has also made the squad despite not playing since March.
Chloe Kelly, who returned from an ACL injury in April, has not yet featured under Wiegman but her form for Manchester City at the end of the Women’s Super League season has proved enough to seal her place.
England take on Belgium in their first warm-up game at Molineux on Thursday night before further matches against the Netherlands on June 24 and Switzerland on June 30.