When Keira Walsh went down clutching her knee throughout England’s Ladies’s World Cup win over Denmark final Friday, you might have heard a pin drop contained in the stadium in Sydney.
Fears she could have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament damage have been quashed by subsequent scans however the seriousness of her damage continues to be unclear.
The 26-year-old, who performed all however 4 minutes of England’s profitable Euro 2022 marketing campaign, is extensively thought to be among the best midfielders on the planet – however she is not going to be accessible for the Lionesses’ remaining group sport towards China in Adelaide on Tuesday.
“How do you fill the footwear of somebody like Keira Walsh?” former England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley informed BBC Radio 5 Stay.
“She is basically the hyperlink. She brings others into play and [chances that] sometimes finish in a purpose or a shot heading in the right direction come by way of Keira Walsh.”
Having misplaced Walsh for a minimum of one sport, what are Sarina Wiegman’s choices to switch her in midfield?
‘Folks underestimate Laura Coombs’
Manchester Metropolis’s Laura Coombs got here on for Walsh towards Denmark to earn her sixth worldwide cap, and might be an choice.
Walsh is a holding midfield specialist who dictates play from a deep function however when Coombs got here on, she performed in a extra superior function. That meant common starter Georgia Stanway dropped additional again from her common extra attacking place.
A yr in the past, Coombs was barely on England’s radar, having not performed for her nation since 2015. But now the 32-year-old, the oldest member of the Lionesses squad on the event, might fill probably the most essential positions on the pitch.
She actually has the help of her team-mates, with Rachel Daly describing her substitute efficiency towards Denmark as “phenomenal”.
Striker Bethany England added: “Coombs is an skilled participant. Perhaps folks underestimate her at this degree however I believed she did unbelievable coming in for Keira.
“She held the ball up properly, linked properly, settled straight into the sport and it did not seem like we have been lacking something.”
Coombs helped drag England to a second win in two matches in Australia by doing the easy stuff properly.
Previously two seasons at Manchester Metropolis she has performed an important function, serving to to retain possession and convey their artistic stars into play. She is dependable and composed in possession, which might show worthwhile for England.
Will Wiegman go for expertise?
Wiegman’s squad is comparatively inexperienced – solely seven gamers right here went to the 2019 World Cup, together with goalkeeper Mary Earps who was an unused substitute, whereas simply seven of the 23 gamers have picked up greater than 50 caps.
With Walsh lacking, Wiegman has misplaced a pacesetter. She might go for worldwide expertise.
Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Nobbs is a artistic, attack-minded participant, so isn’t a direct substitute for Walsh however she is a former England vice-captain, with 71 caps, and is at her fourth main event.
She might are available in as a quantity eight however that might imply dropping Stanway, arguably England’s greatest performer of their opening match, again to a holding function the place she is probably not as a efficient.
May Zelem be England’s pivot participant?
Another choice is Manchester United captain Katie Zelem.
She fought off competitors from Aston Villa’s Lucy Staniforth to make the squad, having been edged out of the ultimate 23-player choice for Euro 2022.
Zelem has made simply eight appearances for England and has largely been out of favour with Wiegman however she is used to being a pivot participant for her membership within the Ladies’s Tremendous League.
Like Walsh, Zelem is somebody who connects the defence to the assault and switches play successfully. She has a great passing vary and is a set-piece specialist, which might be an extra weapon.
However given Walsh’s distinctive high quality on the ball and her means to seek out areas, England could discover it laborious to switch her with a straight swap.
They could be compelled to vary formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-1-3 with two holding midfielders doing Walsh’s job, leaving both Ella Toone or Lauren James to be artistic as a quantity 10.
Both method, England’s squad depth might be examined.
“It is in regards to the 23 gamers we’ve got right here and utilising each single considered one of us on and off the pitch,” stated winger Chloe Kelly.
“It is essential we’re all able to play. Will probably be a chance for another person.”