City Women and England captain Steph Houghton has urged her international teammates to remain optimistic and use their disappointment as motivation for the new season.
Houghton, who captained the Three Lions as they fell to defeat at the hands of France in the Cyprus Cup final, thoroughly enjoyed the tournament but admits that now, she’s glad to be back.
“We arrived back in Manchester yesterday and we’re happy to be home,” she confessed. “We’ve had a recovery session this morning and we have training tonight with the rest of the squad.
“I think the tournament was really good. It was great to go and get game time against some of the world’s top teams and we enjoyed being out on the pitch everyday, training and learning new things.
“It’ll be nice to catch up with everyone at City now. Being away for two weeks is a long time. You want to be involved in every training session but obviously, we had to go.”
Having played three full games for England during the tournament, Houghton was delighted to have the chance to represent her country. She was also pleased with her own performance but is keen to develop even further.
“On a personal level, I think I was consistent but there are still things I’d like to improve on and I’m hoping to do that over the next few weeks,” she declared. “To represent England as centre-half and particularly to captain them is an honour.
“The final was disappointing but we have to try to be positive. We’ve only had a few weeks under new manager Mark Sampson and he’s come in with new ideas.
“We were disappointed with the goals we conceded [in the final]. Before that, we didn’t concede at all and no team looked like scoring against us so to concede two goals so early in the game knocked us out of our stride.
“We have to look at the bigger picture though. France are one of the best teams in the world and they have been for a number of years. They have a lot of players with a lot of international experience and some of them play together at club level.
“You can see that on the pitch with the way that they move. They play together week in, week out so you have to give credit where credit’s due.
“From our point of view, we’ll analyse the game to look at what we did well and look at what we can improve on.”
Now that the City squad have been reunited, the Blues can focus on a full week of training before testing their mettle in another pre-season friendly against Durham on Sunday – a game that Durham-born Houghton is looking forward to.
“It’ll be good to go back home but playing against the club from my hometown will be interesting!” she joked. “Hopefully, we’ll have a good week training-wise and we can finish it off with a victory. Everyone’s just desperate to play now and we’ll all be looking to get some game time.”