England boss Phil Neville has taken a huge gamble on star striker Toni Duggan.
The Barcelona ace turned up for England’s training camp with a thigh injury that will rule her out until the knock out stages.
And Neville and his coaching staff were so concerned about the 27-year-old they debated sending her home.
Under FIFA rules the striker could have been replaced up until 24 hours before the opening game against Scotland in Nice last Sunday, but rather than make a last minute change to the squad draft in a player from Neville’s standby list, he has made a big call in insisting Duggan stays in France.
Neville is gambling that the striker will be fit to play a part in the knockout stages.
But it risks backfiring if Duggan does not recover and ends up being no more than a passenger for the whole tournament.
Duggan, who missed the Scotland game, has already been ruled out of tomorrow’s game with Argentina and next week’s final group game against Japan.
While the rest of Neville’s squad were participating in a full training session at their Deauville base, Duggan was forced to practice light drills alone.
So far in France she has only been able to participate in upper body strength and conditioning sessions.
Neville is ready to make a number of changes to the starting line up that takes on Argentina in Le Havre.
Although centre back Millie Bright, who had her shoulder immobilised in a sling this week has returned to full training, the England boss is unlikely to risk the Chelsea player and is to choose Abbie McManus to partner Steph Houghton in the heart of defence.
Demi Stokes, absent since the end of May, also trained yesterday and should be available for selection.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is declared fit after picking up a knock but SunSport revealed yesterday that Neville is considering a swap in goal with Carly Telford coming in for Karen Bardsley.
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