The return of Houghton from a knee injury just in time for the tournament 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 but with Houghton’s return, the 22-year-old Arsenal Ladies midfielder has lost her automatic place in the team.
Despite the doubts over her inclusion, Nobbs is full of warm praise for Houghton as the team prepares for a match with a semi-final spot awaiting the winner.
Nobbs, the Teesside-born daughter of former Hartlepool player Keith Nobbs, said: “We need Steph in the team and thank God she’s back. 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.
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.
Taylor, who has also had stints in England with Birmingham and Lincoln, and a fruitful spell with the Washington Spirit last year, said: “To play professional in the US has always been a dream of mine. 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.”