May 8, 2019 / 9:27 AM / 16 days ago

Houghton first England pick in unconventional World Cup unveiling

LONDON (Reuters) - England soccer captain Steph Houghton was the first player named in the country’s Women’s World Cup squad on Wednesday, in an unconventional unveiling dribbled out on social media, and revealed by a series of celebrities.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's International Friendly - England v Sweden - New York Stadium, Rotherham, Britain - November 11, 2018 England's Steph Houghton before the match Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

The Duke of Cambridge announced defender Houghton’s spot in a video message.

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that England’s defensive rock and captain Steph Houghton will be on the plane to France,” he said. “Steph - congratulations. I know you and the team will do the nation proud. Good luck!”

The squad was revealed over several hours to allow each individual their moment in the sun, manager Phil Neville said.

Other early announcements included striker Ellen White - revealed by TV host and actor James Corden - and left back Alex Greenwood who was announced by singer Olly Murs.

Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Izzy Christiansen has been left out of the squad after failing to prove her fitness since breaking her ankle in March.

Christiansen picked up the injury during England’s win over Japan at the SheBelieves Cup and required surgery.

Lyon posted a video on Twitter on Monday of the 27-year-old resuming individual training but Neville has instead opted to select Birmingham midfielder Lucy Staniforth in her place.

England have 11 players who will make their World Cup debuts next month, while Karen Carney and Jill Scott will make their fourth appearance at the tournament.

“This is a significant moment in our World Cup campaign,” said Neville.

“Picking a squad is never easy but I believe in this group and I know they will be ready to help us perform at our very best at the finals.

“We know what we are capable of achieving and are determined to do all we can to be successful. We keep saying it but the hard work starts now and we are going to give it everything we have to make the nation proud.”

The World Cup will feature 24 teams, and takes place across France from June 7-July 7.

England, who will begin their campaign against Scotland on June 9, are one of the favourites for the tournament this year. Their best result was a third-place finish in 2015 in Canada.

Full squad: Karen Bardsley, Mary Earps, Carly Telford, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood, Steph Houghton (captain), Abbie McManus, Demi Stokes, Leah Williamson, Karen Carney, Jade Moore, Jill Scott, Lucy Staniforth, Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, Toni Duggan, Fran Kirby, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Jodie Taylor, Ellen White.

Reporting by Ossian Shine and Hardik Vyas; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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