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Steph Houghton was the surprise omission of England’s final 23-man squad for the European Championship announced on Wednesday.

The Manchester City defender, capped 121 times by her country, was the biggest name left out by Sarina Wiegman ahead of the tournament, which kicks off with England’s clash with Austria at Old Trafford in three weeks’ time.

Houghton has been hampered by ankle and Achilles injuries all season and has yet to play for England under Wiegman, who took over last September.

Sources told Telegraph Sport that the meeting with Wiegman was emotional as Houghton digested the news that she would not be playing in a home tournament.

England captain for most of the past eight years, Houghton’s role now passes to Arsenal midfielder Leah Williamson.

Other players left out of a provisional 28-man squad are Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, Chelsea defender Niamh Charles and Manchester United midfielders Katie Zelem and Lucy Stainforth.

But it’s Houghton’s exclusion that has created the biggest stir with speculation over whether Wiegman would make what is seen as a bold decision to leave her out.

Houghton was injured while playing at Wiegman’s first camp in England in September and, after returning to City in January, he worsened the problem and underwent surgery, ending the season with just five WSL games.

“I’m excited about what’s possible for this group,” Wiegman said. “We all know this is a great opportunity and it’s one we have to grab with both hands.

“Making the final selection is always difficult because we know the talent and commitment of each player.

“All 28 players have been excellent on and off the field since I started. I am sure that those we had to let down will give their all to support us and will be ready if called upon.

“Of course we hope to avoid setbacks before we start against Austria, but we know where we can turn if we need a replacement.”

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