Women's World Cup: Steph Houghton living dream

By Nigel AdderleyBBC Sport in Wolfsburg, Germany

England midfielder Steph Houghton has told BBC Sport how much being part of the Women's World Cup squad means to her after the agony of missing previous tournaments because of injury.

The 23-year-old was ruled out of the 2007 World Cup after suffering a broken leg, and she damaged knee ligaments just before the European Championship two years ago.

"Playing in the World Cup is something you dream about since being a kid," she said.

"When the squad was announced I couldn't stop smiling because this tournament will be massive."

The Arsenal player added: "Missing major tournaments was really hard but I've got good friends and family around me and I was well looked after. It took time to get back into the shape, which I have done, but when you get the phone-call to say you're going to the World Cup it's all worth it."

England kick-off their group matches against Mexico on Monday in Wolfsburg before facing New Zealand and Japan. It is probable they will have to win the group to avoid meeting hosts and reigning champions Germany in the quarter-finals but Houghton does not think the team should look that far ahead.

"We all know about the possibilities but we can't look beyond Mexico at the moment," she added. "We know that each game will be tough because everyone wants to play in the World Cup.

"Mexico beat USA in qualifying which just shows how competitive it will be but on the day hopefully the result will take care of itself - we've got a talented squad so fingers crossed we can make a winning start."

The Sunderland-born player is also aware of the interest which England being at the World Cup is starting to generate.

"Hopefully plenty of England fans will be watching the games live [on the BBC] and a good tournament will raise the profile of the women's game even more.

"We should be proud of the progress we're making - football is now the most played sport by women in England which ultimately could help the England team."

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