Virus hits England Women World Cup squad ahead quarterfinal clash

England are facing a Women’s World Cup crisis after a virus swept through their squad ahead of the quarter-final clash with Norway.

Phil Neville fears being without both his centre-backs for the crunch last-eight tie in Le Harve – the biggest test of the Lionesses in the tournament so far.

Centre-back Mille Bright is rated as a major doubt to be well enough to play having been consigned to her room through sickness.

It is the worst possible news for England with captain Steph Houghton already struggling to play on Thursday through injury.

Houghton has still not recovered from the ankle injury she suffered as the result of a shocking challenge on her late in the controversial 3-0 win over Cameroon in the last-16.

And it leaves Neville having to plan to face Norway without the bedrocks of his defence – the two players he relies upon to keep things tight at the back.

If both were missing, it would leave to England having to turn to Leah Williamson and McManus to come in from the start for the last eight match.

Neville said: “Both are major doubts.

“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.”

Neville insists he will have no reservations throwing in either Williamson or McManus in such a big match.

And he claims this is the perfect example of why he has been so keen to rotate his team selections in the build-up to the tournament – something that has drawn criticism from some quarters.

He added: “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.”

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