Wright on James’ red card: ‘She’ll come back stronger’ (0:45)

England legend Ian Wright backs Lauren James to bounce back after her controversial red card at the Women’s World Cup. (0:45)

Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterAug 9, 2023, 07:00 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

SYDNEY – England have a winning mentality in the group, but they must improve their performances if they are to win the Women’s World Cup, defender Lucy Bronze has said.

England face Colombia on Saturday in Sydney in the quarterfinals of the tournament after the Lionesses booked their spot with a penalty shootout victory over Nigeria.

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Meanwhile, Colombia booked their spot in the last eight after a 1-0 win over Jamaica and England know they will have to improve on their performance against Nigeria if they are to progress through the tournament.

“We can give more,” Bronze said. “We’re a fantastic team with highly talented players.

“There’s no point in playing our best performances in the first games; we might as well save them for the quarterfinals or further than that.

“We’ve built on every game; we’ve taken something from every game – whether that was the Haiti game that was physical, the Denmark game when we lost our key player in Keira [Walsh], the China game we changed the formation completely, [and against Nigeria] we had a red card.

“Everything that has been thrown at us, we’ve dealt with and moved forward. I don’t see many other teams who’ve had that adversity and if they had, I don’t think they’ve managed to overcome the way we have. At the same time, we are not happy with our performances.”

England will be without Lauren James for the quarterfinal after she was shown a red card in the latter stages of the Nigeria match. England’s campaign hasn’t been straightforward as they also lost Walsh for the China clash after she injured her knee against Denmark. But Bronze said she believes England have coped well with all the adversity.

“The most important thing is that we’re coming out of games with wins,” Bronze said. “I think I said that after the Haiti game, and some people thought that was not probably what they wanted.

“However, we’re the ones who are still in the competition and there’s many top teams who are going home because they haven’t been able to get that point or been able to see the games out in the penalty shootout and we have. We’ve shown that side of our team that we know what it takes to win.”

Forward Alessia Russo hopes England will get the job done in normal time against Colombia.

“I think we will progress as a team but also at the same time we want to win and move forward,” Russo said. “And that’s all that matters in this tournament. We don’t want to be going to penalties every time. We want to win.”

Former England and Arsenal forward Ian Wright told ESPN that James should be shown support following her red card against Nigeria.

“Coming into the tournament we were still trying to find our feet, trying to find that bit of fluidity. I think it came in the China game and we saw that with Lauren James and her brilliant performance and her brilliant performances up to this point to get herself into the England team. Unfortunately, yesterday, those things happen.

“When you’re a young player, you get frustrated, you make a mistake like that and it’s something that she’ll learn from. She’s got unbelievable people around her, she’s got an amazing manager in Emma Hayes, so I believe she’ll be fine. The only thing is she’ll have to deal with what comes with this publicity and what happened. But she’ll be fine because she has the support, she will have the support and she’ll come back stronger.”