England skipper Steph Houghton cranks up mind games prior to European Championship semi-final with Holland

 
Ross McLean
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England Training Session - UEFA Women's Euro 2017
Houghton, right, fully expects England to deal with the pressure of a European Championship semi-final (Source: Getty)

England skipper Steph Houghton has ramped up the pressure on rivals Holland and questioned whether they can handle the burden of a European Championship semi-final on home soil.

Manchester City centre-half Houghton will lead out her troops in Enschede on Thursday in what is a repeat of the 2009 last-four showdown between the two nations, which England won 2-1 after extra-time.

The 29-year-old has urged the Lionesses to draw on their past experiences of overcoming host nations in major competitions to reach their first European Championship final since 2009.

“Come tomorrow I think it will be Holland who are the team under pressure,” said Houghton.

“With the tournament in their own country, the crowd will be full of Dutch people and they will be all against us but we’ve been through experiences where we have been the underdog.

“We went to Canada and beat the host nation in the [2015 World Cup] quarter-final, which was a fantastic experience. Ultimately, we’ve got better players now, players who have really improved and really want to wear that England shirt.”

England boss Mark Sampson will be forced into at least two changes for the clash with midfielder Jill Scott suspended and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley ruled out with a broken leg. Despite those losses, Houghton is convinced England will rise to the occasion.

She added: “We just can’t wait to get going. We are full of confidence ahead of the game.”

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