(Reuters) – England manager Phil Neville says defenders Steph Houghton and Millie Bright are “major doubts” for their women’s World Cup quarter-final against Norway in Le Havre on Thursday.
Captain Houghton was on the receiving end of a tough challenge during the closing stages of the 3-0 victory over Cameroon in the last 16, while Bright is suffering from a virus.
“Both are major doubts,” Neville told a news conference on Wednesday.
“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.”
England losing their centre-back pairing could be seen as a blow but Neville said he was relaxed about the potential replacements, Leah Williamson and Abbie McManus, who have previous featured at the World Cup and SheBelieves Cup.
“You guys have had an obsession with my rotation for the last 18 months… but it’s for moments like this,” Neville added.
“We can bring in two people who know the system and the have utter belief and confidence in each other. It’s a seamless transition.
“I put my life on Leah and Abbie that, if called upon, they will be the best two players on the pitch.”
The Lionesses are currently on a five-match winning streak in the World Cup, which is their best ever run in the history of tournament.
Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley feels the squad is peaking at the right time as they look to improve on their third-placed finish in 2015.
“I think we are the most prepared team, the most resilient team, and we know our strengths,” she said.
“We have gathered momentum throughout the group stages and experienced different tests, and I am very excited for the game tomorrow because I do not think we have reached out potential yet.
“I think we could do that tomorrow.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)