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Women's Football James to miss Belgium games with concussion

ENGLAND forward Lauren James will miss the Women’s Nations League double-header against Belgium because of concussion.

England play the first of their two-parter at Leicester tonight (kick-off 7.45pm, live coverage on ITV4) but the Chelsea player will not be involved as she goes through the relevant protocols after suffering a head injury.

Lotte Wubben-Moy trained today and could be involved in the squad at Filbert Way.

“We have 25 players, but they are not all fit,” boss Sarina Wiegman said. “Unfortunately, Lauren James is not ready, she won’t be ready for Tuesday also.

“Nothing to worry about, she picked up a concussion and she knows we have to be careful of the protocols that we always do, so that is just too short to be ready for the two games.

“Lotte is on the pitch and we will assess her today, everyone else is good.”

Belgium currently top group A1 of the Women’s Nations League with four points from their opening two games while England suffered a last-gasp defeat against Holland in September.

That loss places an importance on the two games against the Belgians and Wiegman, who celebrated her 54th birthday on Thursday, wants a response.

“We always want to win and expectations are high, but we have our own expectations too,” she said. “Of course, we lost the last game, we were not happy with that and we want to bounce back.

“What we are working on is improving our game, doing things right and playing very well against Belgium and getting a result.

“They are really competing for something in the Nations League. They are in a very different situation at the moment: they play with different shape, with different players and are in transition.

“They are very competitive, very well organised and, as they showed in September, they are very hard to beat.”

Goalkeeper Mary Earps will get the chance to play at Leicester, where she began her youth career.

Her profile has been lifted on the back of England’s successes in recent years, culminating in replica goalie shirts selling out after her World Cup exploits in the summer.

England have always been accessible to fans, but Earps thinks there is now a tipping point given their elevated status.

“Expectation of the team is obviously a huge compliment in terms of the way teams expect us to win and things like that,” the Manchester United keeper said.

“The accessibility people get to us as players is a hot topic of discussion — it’s something we as players are experiencing in a very different way in terms of the way the profile is changing.

“We love to interact with the fans but it is becoming difficult to keep everyone happy and to interact with as many people as possible.

“We are so grateful that thousands and thousands of people want to come and meet us and talk to us, but the reality is that if that is the expectation, then we are always going to fall short.

“I think the emphasis on it needs to switch. We love that we can be so connected — but we are subject to a lot of comments and at times it is an addition to the game we don’t need.

“We love it, but it is becoming difficult to maintain that.”

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