Ella Toone, Lauren James & England's options to replace injured Fran Kirby at the 2023 Women's World Cup
It's not been a great few months for England on the injury front and, on Tuesday, Chelsea star Fran Kirby added her name to a growing list of absentees and concerns. In a statement, Kirby confirmed she will miss the 2023 Women's World Cup as she undergoes knee surgery to solve an issue that has plagued her since she limped off against West Ham in early February.
That news followed an ACL rupture for Lionesses captain Leah Williamson late last month, the same fate that Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead suffered before Christmas. Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze are also currently on the sidelines due to their own knee surgeries, though neither player is expected to be ruled out of this summer's tournament.
England have, at least, been without Kirby for the last two international windows, and have therefore been able to take a closer look at other options in the advanced midfield role that she often holds in the team.
The Lionesses are not exactly blessed with depth in the centre of the park, but there are a number of candidates for head coach Sarina Wiegman to consider in Kirby's absence - not only for her starting line up, but also as substitutes who could have an impact in the freer midfielder role.
GOAL runs the rule over the contenders: