Tuesday, July 16, 2024

England vs Nigeria: Sarina Wiegman says Keira Walsh could play in Women's World Cup last-16 match – Sky Sports


Keira Walsh was stretchered off in England’s 1-0 win over Denmark on July 28; midfielder has avoided serious knee injury; follow the Women’s World Cup last-16 match between England and Nigeria from Brisbane on Monday with Sky Sports’ live blog; kick-off 8.30am
Sunday 6 August 2023 21:56, UK
Sarina Wiegman has revealed Keira Walsh could make a surprise return from injury when England take on Nigeria in their Women’s World Cup last-16 match against Nigeria on Monday.
Walsh suffered what appeared to be a serious knee issue during England’s win against Denmark on July 28, sparking fears that she was the latest women’s player to have suffered an ACL injury.
However, after sitting out the thrashing of China on Tuesday, Walsh has already returned to team training and could face Nigeria in Brisbane if she responds well to treatment, said Wiegman.
“She’s doing well,” the manager said of Walsh. “She started her rehab straight after we knew what was going on.
“She has been on the pitch training today so now we will wait to see how she recovers.
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“If she does well then she will be available for tomorrow.”
Wiegman refused to be drawn on the nature of Walsh’s issue, saying only that “it wasn’t a ligament injury”.
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However, she added: “That moment was very hard and not nice to see. But after the assessment, we really knew what was going on.
“We didn’t want to take any assumptions – just wait until a proper assessment had been done. That’s what we did and then we got the green light to get her rehab started.”
The early elimination of Germany and Brazil, as well as England’s stunning performance against China, have seen Wiegman’s side tipped by many as likely winners of the Women’s World Cup.
However, the manager – who reached the final of the competition with the Netherlands in 2019 – responded emphatically to any suggestions of complacency creeping into camp.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “What we have seen in this tournament is that nothing is easy. The growth of the game is shown in 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 have to be at our best.”
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Nigeria impressively navigated their way out of a group containing co-hosts Australia and Olympic champions Canada and Wiegman is aware of the danger Africa’s highest-ranked side pose.
“There are a couple of threats from Nigeria,” said the England boss. “They have done really well in the group stage.
“On the counter attack they are really dangerous. They are quick and pretty physical, so those are things we have to be aware of.”
Millie Bright says she is proud to be carrying on the legacy of “fearless” ex-England skipper John Terry after taking the armband from injured captain Leah Williamson.
Chelsea defender Bright said: “JT was a big one for me. I think the way he carried himself, and he always stepped out on the pitch fearless and stepped up.
“Every team that he’s played in I think he’s done that and he’s led by example. His actions have spoken louder than his words. For me that’s definitely something I believe in as well.
“Off the pitch I think he’s a great human, he’s very caring. I know a lot from a personal level that he’s always given a lot to the women’s team. On the pitch, without a shadow of a doubt.”
After emerging from what some termed the ‘group of death’ in Australia and New Zealand, Randy Waldrum, the Nigeria manager, says a shock win over England would be one of the greatest achievements in the side’s history.
“It would be a huge win,” said Waldrum. “Obviously, with what we’ve accomplished, Nigeria is buzzing and I don’t think people expected us to get out of the group and to get the results that we’ve gotten, so I think it’s already been a big success.
“If you can not only [knock out] the Olympic gold medallist but turn around and beat the European champions, then it’d be something extremely special back home for all the people in Nigeria and for the squad.
“It certainly could be transformational in a lot of different ways.”
Nigeria’s performances have belied their FIFA ranking of No 40 and are made even more impressive given the team were in dispute with their federation over pay before the tournament, while reports suggested Waldrum’s job was in danger.
But they are one of three African sides that made it to the knockout stages and are just one win away from reaching the last eight – something they last did in 1999.
“I have watched this World Cup unfold and seen some of the story lines that are out there, with teams that are successful,” Waldrum – an American – said.
“The African teams… the talent is there so maybe people outside of Africa may be shocked about it, but I don’t think those in Africa really are.”
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The round of 16 takes place from August 5 to August 8, with eight games being played across Australia and New Zealand.
The quarter-finals, which will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for August 11 and 12.
The first semi-final will then be played on August 15 in Auckland, with the other semi-final taking place on August 16 at the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which will then host the final on August 20.
A third-place play-off will be played the day before the final on August 19 in Brisbane.
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