England are facing a serious injury problem ahead of their World Cup quarter-final clash with Norway on Thursday night, with first choice centre-backs Steph Houghton and Millie Bright both "major doubts" for the match.
Houghton is struggling with an ankle injury picked up at the end of Sunday's round of 16 win over Cameroon, when young Indomitable Lionesses forward Alexandra Takounda came straight through the back of the England skipper on the sideline.
The Manchester City captain stayed down for some time, being withdrawn from the post-match press conference for treatment – and coach Phil Neville admitted on Wednesday that he only has a 50/50 chance of having his captain available to face the best attacking side England have come up against in the tournament thus far.
Neville admitted worries at the time of the injury, saying on Sunday: "We’re concerned about her, because she’s not someone who stays down. We will have to do everything to get her fit. Her and Lucy Bronze were outstanding, and the composure of those two spread through the team."
Not only is Houghton in danger of missing the match, but centre-back partner Millie Bright has been struck down with a virus which is making its way through the Lionesses camp and is currently recovering in her room at the team hotel.
Abbie McManus started England's second group game against Argentina at centre-back and would be the first in line to fill an empty spot at the back, with Leah Williamson the squad's fourth option in the heart of the defence.
Neville insisted that he would trust both potential replacements completely – although he did express some hope that Bright would shake off her illness troubles in time to make a recovery for Thursday evening's kickoff.
The Lionesses play Norway on Thursday night for a chance to set up a semi-final clash with tournament favourites USA or France in Lyon next week.