England captain Steph Houghton is a major doubt for Thursday’s World Cup quarter-final clash with Norway, manager Phil Neville has announced.
Houghton was on the receiving end of a tough challenge towards the end of the 3-0 round-of-16 win over Cameroon and is struggling with an ankle issue as a result.
Neville, who also said defender Millie Bright is also a doubt through illness, is hopeful Houghton will train on the eve of the game before making a final decision.
“Both are major doubts,” he said of Houghton and Bright.
“Steph because of the tackle, we are hoping she takes part in some training today, that is the key for Steph.
“Millie has got a virus that is going a little bit through the camp so she is probably more of a doubt than Steph. We are going to give them right to the last minute to be fit.”
Losing his centre-back pairing from the Cameroon victory may be seen as a challenge for Neville as he looks to guide the Lionesses into the last four.
But he has backed their possible replacements and insists he is calm about the situation.
“You guys (the media) have had an obsession with my rotation for the last 18 months,” he said.
“What I would say is that the players we have played, for instance Leah Williamson playing against Japan at SheBelieves, Abbie McManus played in the first two games of SheBelieves.
“Abbie’s form over the last 18 months, it is for moments like this that we can just say ‘no problem’, Steph, Millie, whatever. We just bring two people in who know the system and the style and have utter belief and confidence in each other.
“It is a seamless transition, you plan for these moments. I said six months ago that we don’t want to get to the quarter-final of a World Cup and throw a young kid in – so there has been a plan behind it and it has been for moments like this and I am totally relaxed.”