Lionesses suffer injury blow as Lauren James ruled out of Belgium double-header


Chelsea and England star Lauren James has been ruled out of the Lionesses' UEFA Women's Nations League double-header against Belgium due to concussion.

Sarina Wiegman's side are set to take on Belgium for the first time since their Arnold Clark Cup triumph earlier this year and will be hoping to put right a disappointing defeat to the Netherlands in September. England currently sit third in their group, behind both the Dutch and Belgium.

However, Wiegman will now be without James for their upcoming games with the 22-year-old ruled out due to concussion protocols. James has been a breakout star for the Lionesses with her performances lighting up the stage at the World Cup over the summer.

"Lauren is not ready," Wiegman said on Thursday. "She won't be ready for Tuesday also. She picked up a concussion and as you know we have to be really careful and follow the protocol so it's just too short for the upcoming two games."

Although, the squad has been boosted this international break by the return of Chelsea star Fran Kirby, who missed the World Cup over the summer through injury. Kirby could feature for England for the first time in just over a year, with her last call-up in October 2022 for the friendlies against the USA and Czech Republic.

Speaking on her long-awaited return, Kirby told England Football: “Every week I am improving. The more I am playing at my club and the more I am training the fitter I am getting.

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“So I would say I am still building, I wouldn’t say I am quite at the 100 per cent level just yet but I am getting pretty close and being away with the girls this week will definitely help me in terms of the intensity in training and hopefully I can be involved in some of the games.

“I am enjoying [being away with England] and I am looking forward to building my minutes and building my fitness up.”

England take on Belgium at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Friday evening, before they travel to Leuven in Belgium on Tuesday night. The Lionesses will be hoping to regain control of their Nations League group, with only the two finalists of the competition set to qualify for the Olympics in France next summer.

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