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Steph Houghton was delighted to pick up the Young Player of the Year Award at the FA National Women's Football Awards and set her sights on winning a place in the England World Cup squad.
The 19-year-old Sunderland utility player has made rapid strides over the past year but modestly admitted that the award had come as a little bit of a shock. "It's a bit of a surprise," she told Women's Soccer Scene, "I didn't expect to come down and win an award as there are a lot of young players who have come through to the England fold. It's a great achievement and what a way to cap the year."
That year included making her full England debut in March, during England's crushing 6-0 victory over Russia. "That was a special moment for me," said Steph, "but this has come close to matching it. You work so hard to achieve things like this and I am really pleased."
However the award also rounds off a bittersweet period for Steph as her club Sunderland were relegated back to the Northern Division at the end of the season. "I was gutted to hear (the news) when we went down and it was a bit of a shock on the last day," she admitted. "But on a personal note, the season has gone really well. I've been playing really well and I've had a lot of good form over the last year and my England appearances have proved that."
Now Steph faces a new challenge over the next few weeks, to hold down her place in the England squad and make sure that she is named for the World Cup in September. "China is obvously at the top of my ambitions," she said, "but if I don't get there, all the experience of the build up would have been great - but hopefully I'll get there. For England I would say that right back is my best position as I can influence the game in so many ways as well.
"We have got two weeks off, so there is a bit of time to relax and go on holiday but I am looking forward to training again and working towards the World Cup."
Photo - www.jamesprickett.co.uk
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