Steph Houghton believes the strong Manchester City contingent in the England team has made her Women’s World Cup experience easier.
The captain was speaking after the Lionesses produced their most convincing win of the tournament, a 2-0 victory over Japan in which seven City players started, with new signing Ellen White hitting a brace to set up a last 16 clash with Cameroon.
The link between the City players could not have been more obvious as Georgia Stanway made her first start of the tournament.
The 20-year-old combined well with White to give supporters a tantalising taste of what might be to come next season in the Women’s Super League.
And as England prepare for the knockout stage to begin, Houghton hailed the relationship between her team-mates.
“I think it is easier,” she said.
“I think naturally those relationships happen and you know what each other’s doing because you train with them every single day at your club.”
England head coach Phil Neville has adapted his team from the very beginning of his tenure 18 months ago, implementing a progressive style of football in which the national team build from the back.
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It’s an approach which replicates how Nick Cushing asks Houghton to perform and one she feels extremely comfortable with.
“The way we play is quite similar to City,” explained the defender, who lifted two domestic cups last season.
“We have a style and we have a system with the same types of movements, so it does help a little bit.
“No matter who is on that pitch we’ve built relationships over the last two years, especially with this squad changing.
"Whoever is on the pitch we play the same system. We play the same style and every player knows their role within that system."
England take on Cameroon at 4.30pm (BST) today, with a place in the quarter-final at stake. In the UK, the game will be broadcast live on BBC One.
Joe Lightfoot is a Football Journalism student at the University of Derby who are reporting on the Women’s World Cup from France.