Steph Houghton says she is "confident" she can make it back from injury in time for this summer's European Championships - but has admitted her hurt at losing the England captaincy.
Houghton missed much of the 2021/22 season with an Achilles injury, which forced her into surgery at the start of the season and then again in January after a setback.
Her long-term absence saw England boss Sarina Wiegman move the armband to Leah Williamson, but Houghton - who was named in Wiegman's 28-strong provisional squad for the tournament - is determined to win herself a place back in the ranks for the upcoming showpiece, which runs from 6-31 July.
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Speaking to the Evening Standard, Houghton said: "When you have had a four, five-month lay-off already and you have to go again and you know you’re going to miss the rest of the season, it has been quite tough to take.
“I have spoken to the England manager a lot, as well as the Manchester City one, and the surgeon - who is the most important person.
"Everything is possible if I keep ticking off the marks, which I have done so far. I don’t want to say I am definitely going to make it, because anything can happen in football, but I have given myself a greater chance over the last few weeks.
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"I am confident that I can make it.
"It is going to be massive. The last time we had a major tournament in this country was Euro 2005, and the game has moved on quite a lot since then.
"As a player you want to play in front of big crowds, you want a chance to express yourself and impress, and create a legacy for young girls and boys in England.
"I think it could be the biggest tournament yet. The ticket sales have been unbelievable.
"Women’s football just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year, and hopefully this is another stepping stone in that right direction.
“I have just got such a good feeling about this tournament. I think it’s something that this game really needs to push onto the next level.”
Houghton revealed the extent of the hurt she felt at being stripped of her role as skipper last month.
She said: “The conversations are tough, because the captaincy meant a lot to me and my family.
It was a massive privilege to captain the team for over eight years and I feel as though I did everything I possibly could to be the best captain for the team.
“That’s a thing I can take away from it, that I did everything I could. I did what was best. Of course, I was disappointed for the way that it happened because I wasn’t able to prove myself.
“I will support Leah and the vice-captains as much as I can with my experience."
Lionesses manager Wiegman is due to submit her final 23-player squad on June 26.
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