Houghton backs ‘fantastic’ Bassett

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Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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England captain Steph Houghton is convinced Laura Bassett can play a key role as the Lionesses bid to secure third place in the Women’s World Cup at the expense of Germany.

Bassett has thanked her team-mates for their support after her stoppage-time own goal against Japan ended dreams of lifting the trophy.

The 31-year-old defender was left in floods of tears after her error condemned England to a 2-1 semi-final defeat, but she is expected to start Saturday’s third-place play-off against Silvia Neid’s team.

Speaking to the BBC in her first interview since the Japan match, Bassett said: “I have to say a big, big thank you to my team-mates. We’ve come on a long journey.

“The togetherness we’ve created and team spirit hasn’t just happened overnight. It’s been a long journey for all of us. It’s been overwhelming. I’d change (the ending) in a heartbeat if I could.”

Discussing her tearful breakdown, Bassett added: “Something took over me, I was out of control. I just wanted to get off there, I just wanted to cry and be on my own.”

Three days on from the crushing disappointment, Houghton expects her central defensive partner will be raring to go again in Edmonton.

Sadness and frustration lingers for Bassett but Houghton, 27, told Press Association Sport: “I think the professional that she is, she knows we’ve got a job to do against Germany and she’s a fantastic player and a fantastic person.

“Of course she’s not going to be totally 100 per cent, but I know she’ll do everything she can to get us back to winning ways and hopefully put in another fantastic performance like she has done all tournament, because she’s been amazing and one of the stand-out players for us.”

The images of Bassett crying on the pitch triggered an outpouring of support – while also bringing comparisons to the teary images of Paul Gascoigne after he was booked to earn a suspension when the England men contested the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990.

At that tournament 25 years ago England were beaten by hosts Italy in the third-place play-off.

The England women are treating their own third-place match against Germany like a European Championship final, manager Mark Sampson has said, with the aim of establishing themselves as the continent’s leading team two years out from Euro 2017.

Germany were 3-0 winners against England at Wembley last November and have won the last six European Championships, two factors which give an idea of the scale of Sampson’s team’s task, but they are undaunted.

“The squad is in a good place right now,” Houghton said.

“Obviously we’ve been through a lot over the last few days but I think we’ve got to look forward to playing Germany, who are one of the best in the world, and we’ve got a chance of winning the bronze medal. Everyone is really motivated for that.

“There’s no doubt that within this squad the togetherness is as strong as ever.”

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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