Steph Houghton out but Fran Kirby in England squad for Euro 2022

Former England captain Steph Houghton will miss the European Championship after not being included in the squad for next month’s tournament.

Goalkeeper Sandy MacIver is also left out, with Hannah Hampton, Ellie Roebuck and Mary Earps being preferred, and Chelsea full-back Niamh Charles and Manchester United’s Katie Zelem and Lucy Staniforth are also omitted.

The five have been training with England since being called up to a provisional 28-man squad, which has been reduced to 23 for the tournament.

Teams can swap players in and out of squads sent to Uefa in case of Covid or serious injury until the first game.

Houghton is in a race to prove her fitness for manager Sarina Wiegman for the Euro at home after she missed much of the season through injury. The Manchester City defender suffered an ankle injury during Wiegman’s first camp last September and did not play under the manager. She returned to City in January but worsened the injury after playing five games.

goalkeepers Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City).

defenders Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal).

midfielders Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jill Scott (free agent), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal).

To forward Beth England (Chelsea), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ellen White (Manchester City).

Chelsea’s Millie Bright and City’s Alex Greenwood, meanwhile, have likely carved out starting positions in the heart of England’s defence.

England’s second most capped player, Jill Scott, is among the 23 after recovering from injury. Scott, a free agent after announcing his departure from Manchester City after eight and a half years and having spent much of the last two seasons on loan, has played 156 games for England, second only to Fara Williams in 172, and has gone to nine major tournaments.

Nine players – Roebuck, Hampton, Jess Carter, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Bethany England – will participate in their first major tournament.

Wiegman said: “I am excited about what is possible for this group. We all know this is a great opportunity and it’s one we have to grab with both hands. The chance to represent the nation on such a huge stage at home is a pleasure. This group has so far proved that they are prepared to give everything they have in every training session, every meeting and every game.

“Making the final selection is always difficult because we know the talent and commitment of each player. All 28 players have been excellent on and off the field since I started. I am sure that those we had to let down will give their all to support us and will be ready if called upon.

“Of course we hope to avoid setbacks before we start against Austria, but we know where we can turn if we need a replacement. Togetherness is a big part of who we are and from every player in the squad to my outstanding support team, and with the strong support of everyone at the FA and our fans, we are committed to making this a summer to remember.”

The Lionesses are undefeated for 11 games under Wiegman and have scored 72 goals and conceded one.

England face Belgium on Thursday in Molineux, in the first of a series of three pre-tournament friendlies. They then face off against the champions, Wiegman’s former team the Netherlands, at Elland Road, before traveling to a week-long camp and game in Switzerland.

England starts the sold-out Euro at Old Trafford on July 6 against Austria.

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