Walsh in line to return for Nigeria clash in England World Cup boost

AFP , Sunday 6 Aug 2023

Keira Walsh will be available for England in their last-16 Women's World Cup clash against Nigeria on Monday as long as she shows no adverse reaction to returning to training.

Keira Walsh
England midfielder Keira Walsh was stretchered off against Denmark (AFP)

 

England's key midfielder was stretchered off in agony in a 1-0 group-stage win over Denmark with what was feared to have been a serious knee injury.

But scans found the Barcelona star had not been badly hurt and just over a week on she resumed training on Sunday, in a huge boost to England's World Cup hopes.

Coach Sarina Wiegman declined Sunday to disclose the exact nature of the knee injury but said: "She's doing well. She started to rehab straight after we knew what was going on.

"She was on the pitch and training today.

"Now we'll wait to see how she recovers from that training session and if she does well then she's available for tomorrow."

Wiegman switched England's usual 4-3-3 formation to 3-5-2 against China because of Walsh's absence and it paid off with a handsome 6-1 win.

Whether she retains the same set-up against Randy Waldrum's Nigeria remains to be seen given the threat of Barcelona goal machine Asisat Oshoala and the dangerous Uchenna Kanu in attack.

Wiegman is especially wary of Nigeria -- who defeated co-hosts Australia 3-2 in the group phase -- on the counter-attack.

"They're quick, they're pretty physical, so those are things we really need to be aware of," she said.

Wiegman said a series of shock results at the World Cup, including early exits for Germany, Brazil and Canada, were proof that England could not afford to take lower-ranked Nigeria lightly.

England are European champions and one of the favourites to win the World Cup but Wiegman cautioned: "What we've seen in this tournament is that nothing is easy.

"The growth of the game is shown at this tournament.

"We haven't had any easy games at all and we don't expect an easy game tomorrow.

"It's going to be very competitive and we need to be at our best."

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