Women's Team

Houghton: We're ready for our toughest challenge yet

Manchester City Women ace Steph Houghton is preparing her Lionesses for a physical challenge against Norway in tonight’s World Cup last 16 clash.

England have never won a knock-out game in the tournament before but - echoing her goalkeeper Karen Bardsley's sentiments - Houghton asserts her side have what it takes to make history.

Declared the skipper: "We've got an opportunity to get through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, which would be a great achievement for us all as a squad and a great honour for me to have led these girls out.

"The most important thing is to focus on the game against Norway and hopefully, we can put in a performance we're proud of and get through.

"I think this is our toughest challenge yet but we're in a really good place and we have to make sure we do the business.

"Norway are a team that like to have that physical and direct approach which is something I don't think we've experienced yet in this tournament but we feel ready."

After a tricky start which saw the Lionesses fall to France in the opening game, two triumphs in their remaining clashes secured progression and Houghton added she believes her side are growing in confidence each day.

"I feel we're gaining momentum as we go into each game," she stated. "We have to be confident in our strengths going forward.

"The France game was a tough challenge for us. Defensively, I thought we were superb and they had the one chance that they scored.

"Credit to ourselves, we were under pressure against Mexico, knowing Colombia had just beaten France. I feel as though we stuck together as a group that day and performed well - even more so against Colombia."

When asked how she copes with the pressure of captaining her country, she replied: "It's how you perceive it. It's a great pressure to have - to lead such a great group of girls.

"It's a tremendous honour and over the last 18 months, I've grown into the role and enjoyed every single moment.

"Before this World Cup, I made a personal thought to myself to go out, enjoy it and smile. I told myself: this is where you want to be - playing in World Cups for your country."

The clash kicks off at 10pm BST and will be broadcast live on BBC Three, while we will also have coverage on Twitter and a match report shortly after full-time.

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