Nobbs hails leader Houghton

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Jordan Nobbs believes England have a model captain in Steph Houghton as the Lionesses bid for World Cup glory.

The return of Houghton from a knee injury just in time for the tournament in Canada came as a major relief, even to Nobbs, who would have been in line to lead the team had the centre-back missed out.

As vice-captain, Nobbs took the armband in Houghton’s absence, skippering England to victory over Canada in the Cyprus Cup final in March.

The 22-year-old Arsenal Ladies midfielder has lost her automatic place in the team because of Houghton’s return, although she will be a strong contender to start when England again face the Canadians in Saturday night’s quarter-final.

Houghton’s headed equaliser against Norway was followed by Lucy Bronze’s winner, and Nobbs has said to go beyond the last eight would be “a massive thing” for England.

She is hugely appreciative of Houghton’s qualities as a leader, and determined to learn from the Durham-born defender.

“We need Steph in the team and thank God she’s back, but it’s been a great privilege to be named vice-captain and I’m very lucky I’ve had the chance to walk the team out,” said Nobbs, the Teesside-born daughter of former Hartlepool player Keith Nobbs.

“It’s been one of the best moments in my career.

“I’m very proud I’ve been given the vice-captaincy, to lead as a young player and learn as well from Steph.

“I’ve known Steph for a long time and she’s always shown as a player on and off the pitch that she’s very calm and relaxed, but she makes decisions and she just looks like a leader as well, everything about her.

“She’s professional and hopefully I can learn a lot from her.”

England have travelled west to Vancouver, far from home for most of the squad. But for striker Jodie Taylor the west coast of North America is where she is most comfortable.

She studied across the border and down the coast in Oregon, and plays in the same state for the Portland Thorns, the world’s best-supported women’s club side who regularly attract crowds of around 15,000 spectators.

Portland is just a five-hour drive from Vancouver.

Taylor is in line to face several club-mates on Saturday night, including Canada striker Christine Sinclair, who has scored a stunning 154 goals for her country.

Although Taylor has had stints in England with Birmingham and Lincoln, and enjoyed a fruitful spell with the Washington Spirit last year, at the age of 29 there is nowhere she would rather play and live than green and liberal Portland.

“To play professional in the US has always been a dream of mine and it was great to get the opportunity in DC, but I always wanted to get back to the west coast,” said Merseysider Taylor, who teed up Bronze’s winner against Norway.

“I went to college in Oregon and I absolutely love Portland. I had a number of conversations with England manager Mark Sampson about whether it would harm my chances by playing abroad, but he reassured me that as long as I’m playing at a good standard it wouldn’t matter where.

“That was really nice to hear, even though I asked him the same question about five times just to make sure.

“It’s somewhere I can see myself in the long term.”

Taylor has spent her career “club-hopping”, by her own admission, with spells in England, the US, Canada, Australia and Sweden, rarely staying in one place for longer than a year.

“People will joke, but if you look at the amount of teams I’ve played for, I’ve never ended on bad terms anywhere. It’s not like I get kicked out of clubs and I’m a terrible person and it doesn’t work out,” she said.

“It’s been a journey to keep becoming the best player I can be, and I finally feel I’m in a place where I’d see out my career at Portland if it was my choice.”

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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