Georgia Stanway says she will lead by example in the absence of midfield partner and best friend Keira Walsh when England take on China in their final Women’s World Cup group game.
Walsh was stretchered off in the first half of England’s 1-0 win over Denmark in Sydney on Friday with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, although scans have since shown Walsh has not suffered an ACL injury as first feared.
England boss Sarina Wiegman confirmed Walsh is definitely not in contention for Tuesday’s game against China in Adelaide, with Stanway relishing the prospect of taking on additional responsibility in the absence of Barcelona midfielder Walsh.
“I woke up this morning feeling a lot more mature,” Stanway said.
“I think over the last year I’ve created a little bit of a leadership role for myself in the way I am playing.
“I’ve built a lot of confidence in my own game, I’ve been consistent off the back of the Euros, and I just want to keep that momentum.
“I can prove my leadership by the way that I am playing. I can lead by example and I’m not afraid to communicate. I’ll try and do two jobs.”
Wiegman was non-committal when asked whether Walsh would be able to play any further part in the tournament.
“Keira is okay. It’s not an ACL. I can’t give you any more information,” Wiegman said.
“She won’t be available tomorrow and actually we are only really focusing on the game tomorrow and after that we will continue what we are doing.
“I think we have a strong enough team. I think every game we want to be at our best and we know she is not available. We have a group of 23, so now we have a group of 22 and we have found solutions, and we will show that tomorrow.
“It’s not nice to lose players. First of all for them, and second for the team, but we are here to move on.
“It’s part of sport, it’s not nice, but we have to move on, to adapt to the new situation and find a way, and bring 11 players on the pitch with whom we think can win the game.”
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Wiegman now has five players from the starting XI that lifted last year’s Euros unavailable for the showdown with China. But the England boss is not fazed, and says the target is to end the group stages with a 100% record.
“Things happen in sport,” Wiegman said.
“Sometimes you win some things and sometimes you lose, like now you lose some players. As I said, we have a group of 23.
“It looks a little different maybe, because we have different players, but we are still trying to win games. That’s what we have done in the first two games and that’s what we will try to do tomorrow too.”
Stanway added: “Like Sarina said, there’s 22 of us that have got to step up, and she (Walsh) will be watching.”
The group stage has begun and runs over a two-week period, finishing on 3 August. Group winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16, which takes place from 5 August to 8 August.
The quarter-finals, which will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for 11 and 12 August.
The first semi-final will be played on 15 August in Auckland, with the other semi-final taking place on 16 August at the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which will then host the final on 20 August..