Steph Houghton says Manchester City have no reason to be in panic mode as they attempt to bounce back against West Ham in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, writes Daniel Rees.

City, who won the domestic cup double last season, head into the game following a recent run of three successive defeats, including an early elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Atlético Madrid.

They may have beaten Birmingham last time out but the pressure is still mounting on City, who have only managed one win in their last five, but for Houghton, nothing motivates her side more than proving the doubters wrong.

“We’ve been used to people wanting us to do badly and not play as well, but at the same time, that motivates us even more,” said the City captain.

“Some of our performances as a team lately haven’t been good enough.

“Obviously we’re gutted to be out of the Champions League but this week is a big week for the club.
“We’re used to the pressure and we’re ready and excited for Sunday.”

City manager Nick Cushing was equally frustrated with his side’s European exit, but insisted the squad has not been shaken by their winless run.

“I don’t panic when we lose,” he said.

"I know the capability of the team. I just look for the reasons why – we’ve found those reasons, and they were really basic reasons.

“We won’t share them because it will take our edge away, but we feel we’re in a good place and we know that West Ham are an extremely difficult team.”

The game comes as part of the inaugural Women’s Football Weekend, which seeks to garner attention for the women’s game by luring fans with derbies at major stadiums.

Thousands of fans will flock to men’s grounds up and down the country on Sunday, including the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, Anfield, the Amex and the Madejski, to see their women’s equivalent in action.

For Houghton, the sight is not an unfamiliar one, the 31-year-old having captained England in front of over 77,000 fans at Wembley last Saturday – a moment she never expected to experience in her playing career.

She added: “It’s fantastic for women’s football.

“I think I knew events like this would come, but maybe not at the rate they have over the last few years.

“It’s all about making sure we get consistent numbers on a Sunday. It’s important that this weekend acknowledges supporters of men’s teams coming to watch their affiliated clubs.”