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Lucy Bronze: ‘England squad have huge belief at Women’s World Cup’

Lucy Bronze

England’s ability to find a way to win during the Women’s World Cup has only added to the squad’s belief, Lucy Bronze has said.

The Lionesses edged past Nigeria on penalties in the last 16 and have coped with the loss of key players during matches.

And Bronze believes that Sarina Wiegman’s players have built confidence thanks to the tests they’ve overcome.

“We’re the ones who are still in the competition,” Bronze said.

“There are many top teams who are going home because they haven’t been able to get that win or been able to see the games out – and we have.

“We’ve shown that side of our team and that we know what it takes to win. We have our mentality.

“The belief is huge.”

England, who face Colombia in the quarter-finals on Saturday at 11:30 BST, are favourites to win the Women’s World Cup for the first time after back-to-back champions the USA, Euro 2022 finalists Germany, Olympic gold medallists Canada and South American champions Brazil were all knocked out.

But it has not been an entirely smooth passage for the European champions – midfielder Keira Walsh suffered an injury in the win over Denmark, before forward Lauren James was sent off in the victory against Nigeria.

The red card left Wiegman’s side a player short for more than half an hour but they managed to hang on at 0-0 through extra time to take the game to penalties.

“We’re quite a confident team anyway,” defender Bronze said.

“We had belief in extra time and during the penalties. We know our strengths, we know what we’re capable of and we showed that to the world.

“We can give more. We’re a fantastic team with highly talented players but the important thing is we got through to the next round.

“There’s no point playing our best performances in the first games. We might as well save them for the quarter-finals or further than that.

“We’ve taken something from every game – whether that was the Haiti game that was physical, the Denmark game when we lost our key player [Walsh], the China game where we changed formation completely, and against Nigeria we had a red card.

Keira Walsh is taken off on a stretcher in the game against Denmark

England were boosted by the news that Walsh’s knee injury was not as bad as first thought, and she played 120 minutes in the last-16 win against Nigeria.

There had initially been concerns the midfielder had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury but a subsequent scan allayed such fears.

“Obviously a lot of high profile players have them [ACL] so it’s in the media a lot,” Walsh told BBC Sport. “When I went down, I wasn’t too worried about my ACL. Everyone in the media was but straight away I knew it wasn’t; it was a different pain.

“In these tournaments, you know one injury and you could miss the rest of the games, but England have such a good medical team and turn it around quickly, and luckily I was back on the pitch after 10 days.”

Following her sending off, James – who has three goals for England at the Women’s World Cup so far – apologised, saying she would learn from the experience.

The forward was sent off against Nigeria following a VAR review for stamping on Michelle Alozie’s back.

“She’s disappointed,” Walsh added. “She made a mistake but she apologised to team after the game and apologised on social media to the girl.

“It was really out of character for her. We were all surprised. We’ve got to get round her best we can and support her.”

On her absence from the quarter-final against Colombia, Walsh added: “She’s a massive loss. You can see she has massive moments in her and can change the game at a switch.

“But there are 22 players now and we have to focus on that. We have to focus on Colombia with the team we’ve got.”

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