England captain Steph Houghton is putting this summer’s European Championship to the back of her mind as she focuses on recovering form and fitness with Manchester City.
The 33-year-old defender has returned to action with two appearances in the past week after a four-month lay-off with an ankle injury.
Her comeback is good news for England ahead of next month’s four-team tournament involving Canada, Spain and Germany, April’s World Cup qualifiers and, most notably, the country’s hosting of Euro 2022.
Yet Houghton, who removed further distractions by signing a new contract at City this week, is not looking that far ahead yet.
Houghton said: “My first focus is to try to get back training and get back playing in a Manchester City shirt. That will be my focus over the next few weeks, to continue getting more minutes, play well and get my form and confidence back after a few months out.
“Yes, of course, it’s an exciting time coming up with a home Euros in the back of the mind, but it is just about playing well for City and then everything else will take care of itself.”
Houghton has been a cornerstone of City’s success since the club was relaunched in 2014. She lifted the Women’s Super League title in 2016 and has won both the FA Cup and League Cup three times with City.
Neither she nor the club have revealed the length of her new deal but Houghton has said she intends to remain at City for years to come.
Her standing within the game would undoubtedly have made her a target for other clubs but she insists she has never had any intention of playing elsewhere.
“I think it has been a bit of a mad few days but obviously I’m delighted to commit my future to the club,” she said.
“I have been here from the beginning – eight years – and I’ve loved every minute. I still get that buzz of excitement driving through the gates and coming to training. Hopefully I’ve got a lot more of that to come over the next few years.
“I feel the only place I want to play my football is in Manchester. I still feel I can develop as a player, a leader and a person and I feel this is the best place for me.”
Houghton’s new deal comes after England team-mate Lauren Hemp signed a two-year contract extension with the club.
Manager Gareth Taylor hopes more will follow.
Taylor said: “We are constantly looking to be ahead of the game with contracting and looking further afield, to see where we can improve.
“But when you are changing things massively in the summer it can create some issues, so the less the better for us.
“We are looking to really secure most of the players we have. We are really happy with what we have at the moment.”