Steph Houghton: England captain unconcerned by synthetic pitches

By James GheerbrantBBC Sport
Steph Houghton (left) applauds fans at Wembley
Steph Houghton captained England for the first time against Norway in January 2013

Captain Steph Houghton says England are not fazed by playing on synthetic pitches at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

All six venues for the tournament in Canada will use artificial turf.

Nearly 50 leading players, including Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and United States forward Abby Wambach, took legal action over the issue but have dropped their lawsuit.

"We felt it was unnecessary to get involved. You have to get used to different surfaces," Houghton said.

The Manchester City defender, 26, told BBC Sport: "We come across those pitches week in week out [in the Women's Super League], a lot of us train on those pitches on a daily basis.

"Our main focus is on making sure we're the best prepared team ahead of the World Cup, and I think it's important to concentrate on the football."

Houghton said England were unlikely to play warm-up matches on synthetic pitches to get used to the artificial surfaces.

"Most of them will probably be on grass," she said.

"The most important thing is that we're physically ready, tactically ready and we feel as though we're gelling as a team."

Combined World Cup 'would bring exposure'

Houghton said she would support the idea of a combined men's and women's World Cup.

The idea of staging the women's tournament directly after the men's was proposed by former Fifa presidential candidate David Ginola, who has since withdrawn from the race after failing to secure the required backing of five football associations.

"It would be great if it happened," Houghton said.

England's 2015 World Cup Group F matches
9 June: England v France (in Moncton)
13 June: England v Mexico (in Moncton)
17 June: England v Colombia (in Montreal)

"If you had the women's team playing at the same time as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi, I'm sure it would bring a lot more exposure to the women's game, which the women's game deserves.

"The men's World Cup is a massive tournament and you'd like to think that we could be a part of that."

United States match 'a tough test'

England face United States in a friendly at Stadium MK next week, and Houghton says the team will need to be at their best against the side ranked number two in the world.

"It's a tough test. We want to be playing the best in the world and USA are full of high-quality players," Houghton said.

"USA have been renowned to be one of the best teams in the world for a long period of time, but we believe that we have quality players as well.

"It's a test that we relish as a squad. We need these types of tests before we go to a World Cup finals."

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