London (AFP) – England on Tuesday named former captain Steph Houghton in their provisional squad for the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament despite fitness concerns.

The Manchester City defender has been in a race to be fit for the championship, which begins on July 6, after undergoing Achilles surgery in February.

Houghton, 34, who has not played since January, makes an initial 28-player group that is due to be cut down to a final 23 by England boss Sarina Wiegman in June.

Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs misses out after her season was ended earlier this month by a knee problem, further misfortune for a player who was ruled out of the 2019 World Cup by injury.

Chelsea’s Fran Kirby also returns after taking time out due to a fatigue issue while veteran Jill Scott is another included even though she is working on her fitness.

“We have a settled squad and I know we have players in our team that will give everything to make it a summer to remember,” said Wiegman.

“It is important the players have the chance to get some rest now after a very busy season before we get back to our work. We then have a series of prep camps coming up and it is important we use this time to build an even closer connection on and off the pitch.”

Wiegman’s squad are set to get together from May 30 ahead of warm-up games against Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

England launch the tournament with a match against Austria at Old Trafford on July 6 before facing Norway and Northern Ireland in their other Group A ties.