Fran Kirby injury the latest in a growing list of concerns for the Lionesses ahead of the World Cup

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An injury crisis is threatening to derail the Lionesses’ dream of winning the World Cup this summer.

Chelsea forward Fran Kirby was the latest to be ruled out of the tournament on Tuesday due to a knee injury and she joins a growing list of significant absentees.

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England are set to be without four players who started last summer’s Euro 2022 final, with captain Leah Williamson and Ballon d’Or runner-up Beth Mead joining Kirby on the sidelines with knee injuries. Record goalscorer Ellen White has retired.

The number of missing starters could rise to five as vice-captain Millie Bright is currently out with a knee injury, although it is hoped she will be fit in time.

England manager Sarina Wiegman will certainly hope so, as the depth of her squad is being severely tested.

Alex Greenwood will slot into defence in place of Williamson, but that leaves a question mark as to who plays left-back given Rachel Daly has shone upfront for Aston Villa this season.

In midfield, Ella Tonne will replace Kirby, however that means England are short on impact players off the bench.

A key part of the Lionesses’ success at Euro 2022 was Alessia Russo, Chloe Kelly and Toone coming on to change games - but now all three will likely start in Australia this summer.

It opens the door for Aston Villa’s Jordan Nobbs and Laura Coombs of Manchester City to come into the squad as midfield options, but between them they have started just one game for England since the Euros.

With one month of the season still to go, Wiegman will be praying there are no more injuries.