Lauren James scored on her first start at a World Cup – Shutterstock/Dan Himbrechts
By Tom Garry, Women’s Football Reporter, at the Sydney Football Stadium
England moved to the verge of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup knockout stages as Lauren James inspired them to a deserved victory of Denmark, but the Lionesses’ dreams of winning the tournament were hit by the sight of Keira Walsh suffering a serious-looking knee injury.
Barcelona midfielder Walsh is England’s most important player but was taken off the pitch on a stretcher towards the end of the first half.
Young Chelsea star James’s eye-catching opening goal encapsulated the impressive, fluid passing football that entertained the Sydney crowd in the opening half an hour.
It was a hugely improved England performance from their opening 1-0 victory over Haiti last Saturday, but the European champions’ optimism turned to a deflated mood of despair around the ground as the world’s most expensive women’s player leaving the field in agony after 38 minutes.
Walsh, who set a new world-record when she joined Barcelona last September from Manchester City for a fee of just over £400,000, was visibly distraught and surely her tournament is over. It was the very last thing England fans wanted to see, with Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby already missing this tournament through injury.
That moment overshadowed what was otherwise a hugely positive night for the Lionesses, who will qualify for the last 16 if China fail to beat Haiti in Friday’s late kick-off, and whatever the result in that other Group D fixture, Wiegman’s team are on the brink of the knockout stages.
The Dutchwoman, in a rare move, made two changes to her starting side, bringing in James for winger Lauren Hemp and recalling Rachel Daly, in place of Jess Carter. Aston Villa striker Daly, the top goalscorer in the Women’s Super League last season, was re-deployed at left-back, the position in which she started every game of last summer’s triumphant European Championship campaign. That also saw Alex Greenwood switched inside to centre-back, from the left-back role she was seen in against Haiti, and Wiegman’s tactical tweaks appeared to work superbly, as England looked back to their fluid, flowing best in possession.
After Walsh went off, the task became one of simply seeing out the win, on what must have been a hugely difficult night for the squad mentally, and they came through that task admirably against the 2017 European runners-up, albeit with a few shaky moments late in, including Paris St-German forward Amalie Vangsgaard heading onto the post in the closing stages.
England (4-2-3-1): Earps 7; Bronze 7, Bright 6, Greenwood 8, Daly 7; Stanway 7, Walsh 7 (Coombs 6, 38); James 8, Toone 6 (Hemp 6, 76) Kelly 6; Russo 6 (England 6, 76).
Substitutes not used: Charles, Nobbs, Hampton (gk), Wubben-Moy, Morgan, Carter, Zelem, Roebuck (gk), Robinson.
Denmark (4-3-3): Christensen 6; Sevecke 5, Ballisager 6 (Thogersen 6, 77), Boye 6, Veje 6; Hasbo 5 (Vangsgaard 6, 71), Holmgaard 5, Kuhl 6; Thomsen 6, Harder 6, Madsen 6 (Sorensen 6, 76).
Substitutes not used: Troelsgaard, Snerle, Thrige, Larsen (gk), Gevitz, Bruun, Gejl, Bay (gk), Svada.
Referee: Tess Olofsson (Sweden).
England vs Denmark: As it happened. . .
12:00 PM BST
Have England picked up another ACL injury?
There’s a lot of ACL chat flying about on social media and among the pundits in the BBC studio in light of Walsh’s suspected diagnosis. No one wants to tempt fate but given the spate of injuries that have already hit this England side, with former captain Leah Williamson and Euros golden boot winner Beth Mead both both ruled out of this summer’s tournament with the dreaded knee injury.
It’s a multifactorial problem that no one really knows the answer to – but we do know that women are up to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men. In the BBC studio, Ellen White is touching on some of these and mentions where a woman is in her menstrual cycle, which is thought to be a contributing factor.
Changes in the oestrogen concentration throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle may interact with the soft tissue structures that support the knee, making them more lax, which decreases stability around the knee. But this remains a conflicted area of sports science and more evidence is needed.
11:52 AM BST
A proud big brother
England and Chelsea star Reece James, who is Lauren’s brother, shares his pride:
11:50 AM BST
Rachel Daly reacts
On providing the assist for James’ goal:
I’m going to claim a little bit of credit because I told her she should cut in and shoot tonight. It was unbelievable, no keeper is saving that. She’s a special player and a big threat to us.
On her first tournament start at left-back:
I didn’t mind being in defence. I will play anywhere for this team. It’s an honour to play in any position for the team on the pitch.
On watching Walsh go off:
It’s not nice to see anyone go off injured. Keira’s an integral part of this team and we’re really hoping it’s not too serious. She’ll be a big miss.”
11:45 AM BST
How will England fill the void left by Walsh?
Jonas Eidevall, the Arsenal manager in the BBC studio, is suggesting that if Keira Walsh is out for the remainder of the tournament, England will need two out-and-out sixes to fill the void left by the Barcelona star.
Her injury has definitely soured the Lionesses’ win. Former England striker Ellen White, who played alongside Walsh at last summer’s Euros, is waxing lyrical about the importance of the midfield maestro, recalling how integral she was to the team’s victorious campaign last year:
“I dreaded to think of the idea of us ever losing her because she was one of our best players.
We appreciated so much that all our play came through her. She was the cog that everything moved through. Who’s going to fill that void?
11:38 AM BST
Sarina gives her post-match reaction
The Lionesses head coach tells the BBC:
We started well. We played well and scored a good goal but then had a little section in the first half where we lost balls we didn’t have to lose. We had that horrible moment with Keira and then in the second half we had to fight for the win, and that’s what we did.
On whether she has news on Walsh
Nothing. It looks serious. If you can’t walk off the pitch, it’s serious. I haven’t heard anything yet.
On whether she thought Walsh’s injury impacted the team
I think the team did a great, job they really picked up but it’s not nice to see a player go off like that.”
11:34 AM BST
Lauren James on her wonder strike
The England forward tells the BBC’s Jo Currie:
It’s a dream I’ve been thinking about but most importantly I was glad to help the team win. I kind of had a thought [that it would go in] but as soon as it hit the net it was just a relief.
On her teammates’ reaction:
They were just really happy for me. They said before the game they had a good feeling about me. I’m calm all around, on and off the pitch, and I try to bring that to my game.”
11:29 AM BST
Tom Garry sums up the match
Telegraph Sport analysis
‘Sweet Caroline’ rings around the stadium but the look on Sarina Wiegman’s face is not a joyful one. She’ll be fearing the worst for Keira Walsh’s injury. That game became a task of just seeing out the win any way they could, and England have done that job admirably in tricky circumstances. It’s a valuable win that puts them on the brink of the last 16. But how much further they can get, without a player of the immense quality and importance of Walsh, is hard to tell. Their first-half performance was very impressive and a huge improvement on the win against Haiti, but Walsh going off has overshadowed it all.
11:26 AM BST
FULL TIME England 1 Denmark 0
Beth England draws a foul from Veje and England have a free kick in a decent position. They aren’t interested in sending it in, so Bronze plays it short to Kelly… and that’s it! It’s all over. Another win, another three points for England and that’s their place in the knockout stages sealed.
It was, again, far from unconvincing at times. It wasn’t sparkly, champagne football and they let Denmark come at them in the second half. Lauren James has been a real positive for the Lionesses, not least with her superb individual goal early on, but it looks like they will have to soldier on in this tournament without their midfield magician, Keira Walsh.
11:22 AM BST
90 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Veje directs a long-range strike from 30 yards but Earps isn’t caught out. England’s keeper, for a second game running in this tournament, has been impeccable.
11:21 AM BST
90 mins England 1 Denmark 0
We have four minutes of added time. England need to keep their concentration now.
11:20 AM BST
88 mins England 1 Denmark 0
This isn’t pretty from England, who have looked defensively suspect in this second half, as Denmark come again with Sorensen dribbling into the box. The Danish forward finds herself in so much space and England, who it must be said do look a bit fatigued, need to get tighter. Added time approaching.
11:18 AM BST
85 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Sloppy platy from Daly, who gives the ball away and Denmark and..WHAT a chance! Sørensen sends in an inviting cross and England are like lemons, no one attacks the ball and Vangsgaard is gifted a free header which she directs towards the goal but it clips the post! England survive by the skin of their teeth.
11:16 AM BST
83 mins England 1 Denmark 0
You feel it’s got to be now or never for Denmark, but they’ve looked a bit too casual. England produces some more fine centre forward play, holding the ball up nicely and exchanging a pass with Bronze, who threads through a searching pass but the keeper rushes out to claim it.
Bronze then has a pop herself, it’s a fierce strike but it fails to hit the target.
11:13 AM BST
79 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Lucy Bronze, who really has had a brilliant game, steals the ball and England bring it forward. Daly looks up and sends in a delivery towards England, who doesn’t manage to get enough on it with her head and it’s another missed chance. Beth England loves getting into those positions and after waiting in the wings for so long you can bet she’s keen to make a point.
11:09 AM BST
Less than 15 minutes to go now..
11:08 AM BST
76 mins England 1 Denmark 0
We’re seeing a few changes made by both sides. Alessia Russo is off for Beth England, who comes on for her first start in a major tournament under Wiegman and Lauren Hemp comes on for Ella Toone.
Denmark’s Amalie Vangsgaard, who scored five minutes after coming on against China in her sides 1-0 win, is also on for the Danes, replacing Josefine Hasbo.
Meanwhile, Walsh has been spotted hobbling near England’s dugout on crutches.
11:05 AM BST
73 mins England 1 Denmark 0
An awkward ball for Mary Earps, who sticks out a top hand and palms away a dangerous, looping cross from Veje. That was going in, brilliant play from England’s shot-stopper. Denmark can’t do anything with the ensuing corner.
11:03 AM BST
71 mins England 1 Denmark 0
What a chance for England! They pour forward and Russo unleashes a mighty shot towards goal from 20 yards out but it keeps rising and in the end misses the target.
11:01 AM BST
Luke Edwards reflects on Keira Walsh’s knee injury and analyses what it could mean for the Lionesses’ World Cup campaign here.
10:59 AM BST
65 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Denmark’s Madsen wins a corner off Bronze. Thomsen sends it in but there’s way too much on it and England clear easily, but Denmark regather and come again. England could have killed this game off by now but Denmark have settled into the contest..as there’s more sloppy play from Millie Bright but Bronze mops up.
Madsen is on the ball again and tries a searching ball through but England clean up.
10:55 AM BST
Latest from Luke Edwards
Telegraph Sport analysis
There is a silence inside the press box among the English journalists who all know how devastating the loss of Keira Walsh is for England and how much it harms their chances of winning the World Cup.
The players looked visibly upset out on the pitch too when she left on the stretcher but have stuck to their task well and should have added a second goal. It is cruel but the show must go on and the tournament will. England want to make sure they are in it for as long as possible. None of them will be giving up no matter how acutely the loss of Walsh will be felt.
10:53 AM BST
60 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Lauren James picks up the ball from her partner in crime Daly on the far left. She looks so lively whenever she’s on the ball and cuts inside her marker to drive at the Danish defence. Surely she has to start against China? She’s been England’s leading light up top. She goes down and looks almost certain that she’s drawn a foul but the decision is given against her.
10:48 AM BST
55 mins England 1 Denmark 0
England’s turn to enjoy an attacking spell. They win a corner and Greenway sends it in again towards Stanway, who looks like she’s getting a leg up from her opposite number but can’t connect with it.. but England have another. Greenwood again.. and out of nowhere Lucy Bronze launches herself like a rocket at the swinging ball. She’s well marshalled by Harder, who just about does enough to put Bronze off.
10:45 AM BST
51 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Chance for Denmark work their way up the field and Thomsen eats up grass down the left and finds Kuhl, who stabs the ball towards goal. It’s a tame shot and Earps collects it sans probleme. That was Denmark’s second shot on goal in this match. They’ve had two very good chances but haven’t been able to convert.
10:43 AM BST
49 mins England 1 Denmark 0
England have a three-on-three breakaway. Chloe Kelly tries to thread through to Alessia Russo, forgoing the option of goal scorer James, who is on the left. Russo is left isolated and Denmark snuff it out. That looked like a really threatening opportunity but the Lionesses were really wasteful there.
10:40 AM BST
47 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Two chances for the Lionesses, who have started this half in very similar fashion to the first with their high press. They win a throw-in near the corner flag deep in Denmark’s half but Chloe Kelly’s put-in is efficiently dealt with. They give away a corner, which is fired in by Greenwood towards Lucy Bronze, who heads the ball down inwards and it falls into the path of Toone. The Man Utd midfielder lashes out with her boot but stabs at it and the ball sails wide. England are bringing the tempo.
10:36 AM BST
45 mins England 1 Denmark 0
The players are back out. No changes from either side and we’re underway in the second half.
10:35 AM BST
Latest from Tom Garry
Telegraph Sport analysis
Walsh’s injury is the worst-possible news for England at this tournament. The mood in this stadium now is one of deflation. From the excitement of the opening 20 minutes’ impressive, slick football, to the despair now at the thought that England’s best player might be out for the tournament, it’s a hugely worrying time for Sarina Wiegman and of course Walsh. Anybody covering women’s football for a living has seen enough knee injuries to know that, unfortunately, looks like a bad one. Everything about the reaction for Walsh, the medical staff and the body language of her team-mates said it all, as did the way the knee sort of over-stretched to try as she tried to reach the ball.
10:33 AM BST
‘The more you see it, the worse it looks’
There’s some grim analysis happening in the BBC studio right now. Fara Williams is right – the more you look at Walsh’s injury the worse it looks. She’s tried to slide with her right foot and then appears to twist her knee and immediately mouths, ‘It’s over.’ You feel sick at the thought it could potentially be another Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury.
England players console Keira Walsh – AFP via Getty Images/AFP
10:22 AM BST
HALF TIME England 1 Denmark 0
We’ve just finished three minutes of stoppage time and that’s it for the first half. A dream start for England with Lauren James opening the scoring with a terrific goal, but Keira Walsh’s serious-looking injury has put a real dampener on the occasion.
10:20 AM BST
44 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Lucy Bronze is throwing herself about the pitch and trying to inject some energy into England, who have dropped off the intensity. Stanway nutmegs Kuhl in the midfield to try and find James but Denmark snuff out any hope of an attack.
On the bench, Sarina Wiegman cuts a pensive figure. She’s had to deal with a fair share of big injuries since the Euros last summer and must be feeling a huge sense of deja vu right now.
10:15 AM BST
41 mins England 1 Denmark 0
This will be a big test of England’s character. They had a dream start with James’ early goal but seeing a teammate go down like that is surely going to impact them. Manchester City midfielder Laura Coombs replaces Walsh in what is only her sixth England appearance.
There haven’t been too many clear-cut chances since Denmark’s positive attacking spell but James takes the ball up in the middle of the park and finds Kelly on the left, who sends in an aerial cross but there’s too much on it and there’s nobody there.
10:09 AM BST
37 mins Keira Walsh leaves the pitch on a stretcher
Oh dear. Keira Walsh has just gone down and looks like she’s jarred her knee.. you can tell by the look on her face that this doesn’t look good. She signals for her teammates to get away and looks over at the England bench and raises her arm for the physio to come on. There was no contact involved.. but she’s carried off on a stretcher straight away. Poor Walsh looks devastated. This looks like it could be a serious set-back for England which could add to their injury woes, with Leah Williamson and Beth Mead having missed out on selection due to ACL injuries.
10:04 AM BST
A precious young talent
10:01 AM BST
29 mins England 1 Denmark 0
Denmark are settling into a rhythm now. Pernille Harder receives possession on her left flank and drives towards the area. For some reason Millie Bright, her former Chelsea teammate, stands off her and Harder unleashes a fierce strike that is, thankfully for Mary Earps, right at her. England gave Denmark’s captain far too much space there.
09:58 AM BST
Latest from Luke Edwards
Telegraph Sport analysis
Worth noting that it was the two players brought into the starting XI by Sarina Wiegman who combined for England’s goal. Rachel Daly rolled the ball into the feet of Lauren James, who did the rest. Not the most eye-catching assist of Daly’s career but a telling contribution nonetheless.
Alex Greenwood has also looked very, very assured on the ball at centre back and is enabling England to play through the Denmark press. It has been a much better performance from the Lionesses.
09:57 AM BST
26 mins: England 1 Denmark 0
Woah, a big chance out of the blue for Denmark. England took their foot of the gas and allowed the Danes to drive at them and penetrate the box. Madsen turns exquisitely away from Alex Greenwood and fires a dangerous shot that falls just wide of the post.
In the next passage of play Thomsen this time tries her luck, but her shot sails over the crossbar. It’s taken Denmark the best part of 22 mins to even get on the ball but they’ve had two great chances in quick succession after some sloppy defensive play from the Lionesses. That should be a bit of a wake-up call for Wiegman’s team.
09:53 AM BST
Latest from Tom Garry
Telegraph Sport analysis
What a huge difference for England, with Alex Greenwood playing at centre-half. In-possession, she’s in total control of the ball and can play out through the Denmark press with ease. She’s transformed England’s confidence on the ball. It’s got to be hugely encouraging for England fans.
09:52 AM BST
21 mins: England 1 Denmark 0
James finds herself on the edge of the area and fires a shot from her right boot.. the angle is tight and there’s a fair bt of venom in her shot but the keeper gathers easily.
England come again and this time it’s Bronze who sends in a looping ball that drifts into a dangerous position towards James.. who’s right underneath it but can’t quite connect with it. That should have been two.
09:50 AM BST
17 mins: England 1 Denmark 0
Denmark have been chasing shadows so far in this game and just can’t get on the ball. England look confident and are bobbing it around nicely at the back. Millie Bright tries to pick out Russo in the penalty area but the ball trickles out of play. It’s looking pretty tidy so far.
A reminder that James’ goal was the Lionesses’ first from open play for 5hrs and 37 mins.
09:44 AM BST
13 mins: England 1 Denmark 0
James’ goal has jolted England into life. Denmark can’t get out of their own penalty area at the moment and James herself is causing Sevecke all sorts of problems down the left. She launches another cross in but this time the Danes deal with it. Keira Walsh, who was shut down a lot in the Haiti game, is pulling the strings nicely in the midfield too.
A reminder that England are unbeaten in their previous 16 World Cup games when they’ve scored the opening goal..
09:41 AM BST
10 mins: England 1 Denmark 0
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, who is the Telegraph’s World Cup columnist, had called for James to start this one. You can see why.. catch up on her latest column here:
09:39 AM BST
6 mins: GOAL! Lauren JAMES!
England get it back and work the ball nicely up the pitch and Daly lays it off to James, who has acres of time and space. The Chelsea striker tries her luck from 22 yards out and unleashes a stunning shot that sails into the bottom right hand corner of the goal! That was sensational. The perfect start for the Lionesses and it’s James on her World Cup debut!
09:34 AM BST
2 mins: England 0 Denmark 0
England are on the ball and already Lauren James is looking lively, twisting and turning her opposite number down the left of the penalty area, before launching a cross. There’s too much on it, but it’s a sign of positive intent from the Lionesses.
09:30 AM BST
Lionesses pay tribute to Trevor Francis
Latest from Tom:
England are wearing black armbands tonight as a mark of respect following the sudden death this week of former England, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest striker Trevor Francis, who was Britain’s first £1m transfer.
09:29 AM BST
Our women’s football reporter, Tom Garry, has two screens on the go for tonight. Stay with us for his report later from Sydney.
09:27 AM BST
The anthems are underway..
Denmark’s one is actually very beautiful. Pernille Harder, their star player and captain, looks very calm.
09:24 AM BST
Minutes away from kick-off
Rachel Daly warming up – AFP via Getty Images/AFP
09:21 AM BST
‘James will relish the pressure’
Former England player-turned pundit Fara Williams is particularly excited by the inclusion of Lauren James for today’s match, telling BBC One:
There have been far too many conversations about Rachel Daly and Alessia Russo and who is going to play in the nine.
James has had a fantastic season for Chelsea, coming into the tournament with great form.
There will be a bit of pressure with that, a young player, can she deal with it? I know her well; she can deal with it, she will thrive off it.
09:13 AM BST
Luke Edwards likes the set-up in Sydney
Telegraph Sport analysis
Situated next to the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), the Sydney football stadium (Allianz Stadium) is a brand new addition to a famous sporting venue and the home of Sydney FC. And it’s rather nice actually.
So many new stadiums have no character or individuality but this is different, with steep incline seats, a decent 45,000 capacity and a well designed roof. It is also really easy to get to on public transport – or a perfectly manageable stroll – from the centre of Sydney.
In short, I’m a fan! Far too many new stadiums are built on the outskirts of town while all the main ones in America tend to be really difficult to get to unless you drive there.
09:05 AM BST
Just under half an hour until kick-off
09:03 AM BST
Elsewhere Down Under..
South Africa nearly snatched their first Women’s World Cup victory in a breathtaking encounter against Argentina in Dunedin, but had to settle for a draw after Argentina staged a stunning comeback from two goals down to share the spoils.
England know that a victory over the Danes will be enough to secure progress to the knockout stages with their third and final group fixture against China to come on Tuesday in Adelaide. Either side can qualify today and will do so if they win and China fail to beat Haiti in Friday’s last match, which kicks off at midday.
08:58 AM BST
Lauren James handed her first World Cup start
Lauren James arriving at the Sydney Football Stadium – FIFA via Getty Images/Getty
08:53 AM BST
Full team news
As we’ve just been hearing from Tom, Sarina Wiegman has raised a lot of eyebrows by making two big changes – three of them positional – to the England team that edged past Haiti 1-0 in their opening game. This is the same manager that fielded an unchanged England XI al the way through the Euros last summer, so it’s pretty big news.
Rachel Daly comes back into the side at left-back, meaning Jess Carter misses out. Alex Greenwood switches inside to centre-back. Lauren James for Lauren Hemp is the only other change.
England XI: Earps, Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Daly, Walsh, Stanway, Toone, Kelly, Russo, James.
Subs: Charles, Hemp, Nobbs, Hampton, Wubben-Moy, Morgan, Carter, Coombs, England, Zelem, Roebuck, Robinson.
Former Chelsea forward Pernille Harder starts and captains Denmark and she will spearhead her side’s attack up front. It will be intriguing to see how she fares against Millie Bright, her former Chelsea teammate, who hasn’t had a lot of game time under her belt of late due to injury and looked off the pace against Haiti.
Denmark XI: Christensen, Hasbo, Ballisager, Sevecke, Boye, Holmgaard, Harder, Veje, Kuhl, Madsen, Thomsen.
Subs: Troelsgaard, Snerle, Vangsgaard, Thrige, Sorensen, Thogersen, Larsen, Gevitz, Bruun, Gejl, Ostergaard, Svava.
08:44 AM BST
Let’s check in with our experts on the ground
Tom Garry and Luke Edwards are outside the Sydney Football Stadium.
08:41 AM BST
Tom Garry live from Sydney
Telegraph Sport analysis
England supporters have been enjoying the sunshine in Sydney all day, starting with a group meet-up outside the Sydney Opera House this morning and then embarking on a noisy fan walk through the city centre. They’re in good spirits, and they seem confident of a victory for the Lionesses. The stadium here, in Moore Park, is just a cover drive away from the historic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), which sits adjacent to this new stadium. Football, rugby league and rugby union are all played here at club level, with this modern stadium only opening last year. The surrounding park is a buzz with supporters, and it’s only a couple of tram stops away from the city centre so it’s proved to be easily accessible and it’s creating a happy atmosphere.
08:37 AM BST
England fans out in force in Sydney
The Free Lionesses fan group gather near the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Zac Goodwin/PA
08:25 AM BST
England team news: Wiegman makes two changes
By Tom Garry, Women’s Football Report in Sydney
England (4-2-3-1): Earps; Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Daly; Stanway, Walsh; James, Toone, Kelly; Russo
Sarina Wiegman has done something she’s never done as England manager in a major tournament fixture before: She’s made changes to her starting side. They’re fascinating changes, too, and they’ve sent a ripple around the media room here at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly, the top scorer in the WSL last season, has been picked to play at left-back, the position in which she was deployed throughout the entirety of last summer’s Euros. Daly comes in for Jess Carter, drops to the bench, and Alex Greenwood will move inside the start at centre-back, arguably her strongest position. It means Greenwood will surely be used as the key ball-player to start a lot of England’s attacks from the back. They missed that last time out.
The second England change sees Lauren James replace Lauren Hemp on the wing, and that switch feels a lot less surprising. That’s a change many of us were anticipating, after James’ bright display in the second half against Haiti.
The question now is, if this XI succeeds, could we see this XI used for the remainder of England’s campaign?
08:16 AM BST
Women’s World Cup free bets
England face their biggest danger of the group in Denmark. Back them to still come out on top with these Women’s World Cup free bets.
08:05 AM BST
England need to deliver a more convincing performance
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of England’s second World Cup fixture against Denmark.
After the Lionesses’ unconvincing 1-0 win over minnows Haiti in Brisbane, England will be looking to step up a gear against Denmark and find some tournament momentum.
On paper, they can expect a sterner test against Denmark, who sit just nine spots below the Lionesses in the Fifa women’s rankings, in 13th place.
England’s cagey display in their opening game sparked questions over whether head coach Sarina Wiegman will make changes to her side for this encounter in Sydney.
Wiegman has a track record of sticking with unchanged sides, having named an unchanged starting XI throughout the entire European Championship campaign last summer.
Speculation has been swirling over whether Lauren James will get the nod and start up front to inject some much-needed intensity and dynamism into England’s attack which was missing against Haiti.
Wiegman remained tightlipped over whether she would tinker with her side, saying this week: “What we do is approach every game and then when we get ready to prepare, first of all we see who is fit and available and then we make the decisions to what we need to start with and then we decide whether we’re going to start with the same XI or maybe make some changes.”
Meanwhile, Lars Sondergaard, the Denmark manager, has described England as a footballing “superpower” but urged his team to embrace the opportunity to take on the European champions in a World Cup.
“Sometimes when you enter a match where you are underdogs and you need to perform well against a superpower such as England, it’s easier said than done,” Sondergaard said.
All eyes will be on Denmark captain Pernille Harder, who moved for what was a women’s world-record transfer fee in excess of £250,000 when she signed for Chelsea from German club Wolfsburg in September 2020.
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