Captain Steph Houghton withdraws from England squad

England Women v Canada Women - International Friendly

England Women captain Steph Houghton has withdrawn from the squad ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Spain due to a groin issue, the Football Association has announced.

The FA said the defender felt “mild groin pain” following the 1-0 loss to Canada on Friday and had returned to her club Manchester City, with the decision having been made to “rest her in order to manage her load” ahead of this summer’s World Cup.

Houghton – who has played 104 times for the Lionesses, scoring 12 goals – is the second player to have pulled out of the squad boss Phil Neville named for the Canada and Spain fixtures, with Fran Kirby having done so early last week because of a knee problem.

Neville said last Thursday there was “no concern” about the Chelsea forward’s availability for the World Cup.

The Canada game at the Academy Stadium, the home ground of City’s women’s side, and the clash against Spain at Swindon’s Energy Check County Ground are the first two of four ‘Road to France Series’ World Cup warm-up matches for England.

They also take on Denmark at the Banks' Stadium in Walsall on May 25 and New Zealand at Brighton’s Amex Stadium a week later before their World Cup campaign in France starts with a meeting with Scotland in Nice on June 9.

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