Steph Houghton says the advent of this weekend’s Women’s Football Initiative, part of which sees City play host to West Ham on Sunday, is further proof positive of the huge strides made by the women’s

The Academy Stadium encounter forms part of the wider Women’s Football Weekend initiative launched by the FA to encourage football fans to attend a women’s game at any level of the pyramid on Saturday 16 or Sunday 17 November.

City play host to West Ham United in a 12:30pm kick-off at the Academy Stadium on the Sunday, targeting another historic crowd attendance, having smashed the FA Women’s Super League record with 31,000 watching the first professional Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium back in September.

And Houghton believes the weekend is just the latest evidence of the growth of women’s football in general.

READ: Cushing | White ready to kick on with City

WATCH: City Women 2-1  Birmingham City | Continental Cup highlights

Asked at Friday's pre-match press conference whether when she started out playing in the FA Women’s Super League if she could have foreseen the keen growth of the game, Houghton said the speed of the rise in interest had taken even her by surprise.

“Eventually I knew it would come but maybe not the rate it has risen,” the City and England skipper revealed.

“It’s fantastic for women’s football and now the key is making sure we get consistent numbers.

“This weekend you hope men’s supporters can come and support the affiliated teams but there's no doubt the standard of game has risen and that's great for the game in England as whole.”

Sunday’s encounter with the Hammers marks the start of what Houghton described as a ‘big week’ week for City.

The game is followed by Thursday’s Continental Cup trip to Everton before another key league clash way at Bristol City next Sunday.

WATCH: Houghton: Big week lies ahead

But, in the wake of our frustrating Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid last month, Houghton says she is adamant that Nick Cushing’s side are primed to kick on and achieve more domestic success.

“There is a long way to go. We were gutted about Champions League, but this is a big week for this club,” said the City skipper.

“We have two big league games and a Continental Cup tie, but we’re used to this pressure - used to people wanting us to do bad but we’re motivated by that and excited for Sunday.

"As players we have to take responsibility because some of our performances haven’t been good enough.

“But we're confident in our ability and how we play football and I have no doubt this could be a good season for us

“We know we have a tough game versus West Ham, but we are working hard on the training pitch. I have full confidence in the club and team.”

City are back in FA Women's Super League action against West Ham on November 17th. Kick-off at the Academy Stadium is 12.30pm and tickets are available.