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England face their biggest test of the Women’s World Cup yet as the Lionesses take on Nigeria in the last-16 in Brisbane.
It’s been a tournament of shocks and surprises so far and Sarina Wiegman’s side will be wary of becoming another, after the defending champions United States joined Germany, Canada and Brazil in exiting the competition on Sunday.
But it means the tournament is opening up, with England among those who are looking like contenders in Australia and New Zealand. The Lionesses produced a brilliant performance to thrash China 6-1 last time out, so confidence is high among the camp.
England could be boosted further by the return of Keira Walsh, who has been passed fit after making a remarkable recovery from being stretchered off against Denmark. Wiegman now must decide whether to start the midfielder, after her key formation change against China unlocked England’s best performance of the World Cup so far.
Nigeria are dangerous opposition: led by star striker Asisat Oshoala, the Super Falcons stunned Australia and held Canada on their way to qualifying for the knockout stages.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of England vs Nigeria at the Women’s World Cup.
When is England vs Nigeria?
The match will kick off at 8:30am BST on Monday 7 August.
What TV channel is it on?
England’s first match of the knockout stages against Nigeria will be shown on BBC One, with coverage starting from 8am. The match will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
What is the England team news?
Keira Walsh could make a stunning return for England’s last-16 Women’s World Cup clash against Nigeria.
Walsh was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half of the Lionesses’ 28 July victory over Denmark, with fears that the influential midfielder’s tournament could be over, but scans revealed her knee injury was not as serious as first suspected.
The 26-year-old took another step forward in her recovery when she joined her team-mates in training at the Central Coast Stadium on the eve of their last-16 showdown, before England flew to Brisbane ahead of the knockout encounter.
England boss Sarina Wiegman said: “She is doing well. She started her rehab straight after we knew what was going on.
“She has been on the pitch, she has been training today. Now we will wait until [we see] how she recovers from that training session and if she does well then she is available tomorrow.”
England midfielder Keira Walsh returned to training with her 22 team-mates on Sunday morning
If Walsh does return, Wiegman will have decisions to make after changing formations and switching to a 3-5-2 in the thrashing of China.
If Wiegman does stick with the 3-5-2, Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly could stay at full-back, either side of a back three of Jess Carter, Millie Bright and Alex Greenwood, with Mary Earps in goal.
Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp started as a front two against China and could keep their places ahead both finding the scoresheet in the 6-1 win, while Lauren James is the first name on the teamsheet after her stunning two-goal and three-assist display against China.
If Walsh returns, she will likely take the place of Katie Zelem in midfield, with Georgia Stanway impressing in the number six position in Walsh’s absence.
One thing Wiegman may consider is she has three players, Stanway, Hemp and Greenwood, who are on yellow cards and would miss the quarter-final if they pick up another and England make it there. Yellow cards are not wiped until after the last-16.
What about Nigeria?
Asisat Oshola is fit to start for Nigeria against England after overcoming a knock that saw the star striker start matches on the bench earlier in the World Cup.
“She’s fit and ready to go,” said head coach Randy Waldrum. “She’s ready to perform whatever we ask of her.
“She’s key, you saw her coming off the bench against Australia and saw how important she was.
“She’s a special striker with strength and speed and intelligence in her runs and movements, she’s a big piece of what we do and it’s good to have her fit.”