An inside look at the Lionesses training camp (1:26)

Tom Hamilton has a look inside England’s camp in Terrigal where the Lionesses combine relaxation with training hard ahead of their match vs. Denmark at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. (1:26)

Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterJul 31, 2023, 07:15 AM ET


• Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018

ADELAIDE, Australia – England are refusing to be drawn on whether Keira Walsh will be available again in the Women’s World Cup.

The FA confirmed on Saturday that Walsh did not suffer ACL damage in the knee injury she picked up in Friday’s 1-0 win over Denmark. But Walsh will miss their key Group D clash against China on Tuesday.

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Walsh has remained at England’s base in Terrigal, Sydney, to continue her recovery but head coach Sarina Wiegman would not be drawn on whether the defensive midfielder will be available again in the competition.

“Keira is OK,” Wiegman said. “We know it was not an ACL. We cannot give you anymore information. We have a strong enough team. Every game we want to be at our best. We know she is not available and we will find solutions which we can hopefully show tomorrow.

“Things happen in sport. Sometimes you win some and some you lose – right now we have lost players. It looks a little different maybe but we are still trying to win games.”

Wiegman tried to draw a line under the injury, focusing on China rather than the implication of Walsh’s absence.

“Yeah of course it’s not nice to lose players, firstly for them and secondly for the team,” Wiegman said. “But we’re here to move on. It’s not nice but we have to adapt and find a way. We will have 11 players on the pitch who we think can win the game.”

Wiegman challenged her team to control the ball better against China and central to that will be the role of midfielder Georgia Stanway.

Stanway formed the midfield duo with Walsh that steered England to win the Euros last summer and there is a good chance Stanway will be deployed in a deeper role for Tuesday’s match with either Laura Coombs, Jordan Nobbs or Katie Zelem starting.

“I think for me it’s just covering that discipline element into the game, knowing I don’t always have to be running to help with the attack,” Stanway said of potentially playing in a deeper role. “It’s just knowing I need to protect the back four too.

“That position comes naturally to me because I’ve played it a little bit at club. I’ve played alongside Keira [Walsh] who is the best teacher without knowing it.

“Going into tomorrow it’s about communicating in the middle of the pitch. The connections we’ve had between me, Keira and Tooney has been easy and really synchronised.

“I have to make sure I’m covering the back four and I’m disciplined. I just need to stay on my feet and make sure there’s players in front of me.”

Stanway has picked Walsh’s brains on the nuances of the No. 6 position, but she’s also aware of the fact she heads into the match on a yellow card. If she picks up another booking against China and England progress, she’ll miss their Round of 16 match.

“Yeah of course I’m conscious [of the yellow card],” Stanway said. “I managed 45 minutes in the first game and 90 minutes in the second game so I’m sure I can manage a lot more minutes without picking up a yellow card.”