Number of games Lauren James could miss after sending off against Nigeria

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Lauren James was shown a straight red card (Image: Sajad Imanian/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Lauren James was shown a straight red card (Image: Sajad Imanian/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

England's quarter-final hopes took a major blow as Lauren James was given a straight red card in the second half of the Lionesses' tense last-16 encounter with Nigeria.

The Chelsea forward was initially only handed a caution following an altercation three minutes from full-time with the Super Falcons' Michelle Alozie.

But after a VAR review, James was adjudged to have dug her studs into Alozie's back upon standing up.

And official Melissa Borjas wasted no time in brandishing a red card to send England down to 10 players as James was dismissed from the match.

The dismissal comes as a cruel blow to one of the tournament's most exciting players, whose World Cup campaign looks to have come to a grinding halt.

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The tournament's official rule is a one-match ban for a red card, but the ruling can be upgraded at the discretion of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, for which a precedent has been set. Nigeria's Deborah Abiodun was sent off in extra-time of her side's first group stage match and was forced to serve a three-match ban.

And it is likely that James will serve a similar three-match suspension for her indiscretion, meaning that her World Cup journey will come to a premature end Down Under.

Thus if Sarina Wiegman's side progress to the tournament's final, they must do so without the sublime skill of one of their most exciting players.

The 21-year-old has starred in England's last two group stage matches, claiming successive Player of the Match awards in the process. Her final display against China was one of outstanding quality, in which James grabbed two goals and three assists to become the first England player, men's or women's, to have five goal involvements in a single World Cup match.

However, James struggled to impart herself similarly against Nigeria, who effectively man-marked James out of the knockout tie.

And James let her frustration get the better of her and was duly penalised for her petulance.

This is a breaking news story and will be more to follow when updates when it develops.

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Megan Feringa

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