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England’s senior players have thrown their support behind Lauren James after the 21-year-old attacker was sent off in England’s knockout match against Nigeria on Monday evening.

The incident occurred in the 84th minute when James trod on Michelle Alozie’s back after the two tangled in a challenge. James has also apologised to Alozie and vowed to “learn from my experience”.

An initial yellow card was upgraded to red by VAR, leaving England down to 10 players for the entirety of extra time. The Lionesses went on to go through 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

However, they are likely to be without James — who has three goals and three assists in just three starts — for the remainder of the tournament. Though the automatic ban is just for one match, FIFA has the power to extend suspensions for straight red cards. The precedent for violent conduct is a three-game ban.

Captain Millie Bright, the last England Women’s player to be sent off at a World Cup, immediately lent her support to her Chelsea club-mate.

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“It’s football,” Bright said. “Listen, I have had red cards. Everyone goes through it as a player, everyone goes through it on the world stage. But for me, it’s not a situation that needs too much light shining on it. It’s happened. It’s in the past. We are through.

“All that matters is we come together as a group, we have each others’ backs, and it is just another challenge in football that the player has to face. But we have got (James’) back completely and we will get ready for the next game.”

Had England gone out, it would have likely been the last opportunity for senior players such as Bright and right-back Lucy Bronze to win a World Cup. Bronze has acted as a mentor for James in camp, having burst onto the scene in a similar manner during the 2015 World Cup.

“Although LJ is the youngest in the team, she’s had to mature from a young age,” said Bronze, explaining why James is well-suited to rebound from the setback. “She’s been thrown into the spotlight, whether that’s to do with her brother and her family or because she’s a fantastic player on her own.

“In the last game, everyone put the spotlight on her; she deals with it very very well. She likes hanging around with the older players, myself, Jordan (Nobbs), Alex Greenwood, we are the 3 that she comes to asking for advice.

“Obviously she’s going to be disappointed in herself. I went straight off the pitch after the game to make sure she was OK. Obviously, she was a little bit upset and rightfully so and more than anything she just feels bad for the team. I said to her: ‘We’ve made it through. It’s a team. It’s not just one player.’”

The English FA later released a statement on the incident, saying: “Lauren is really sorry for her actions which led to the red card and is full of remorse. It is wholly out of character for her.

“We will be supporting Lauren throughout and will be putting forward representation on her behalf. We fully respect FIFA’s disciplinary process and will not be making any further comment until after any decision has been made.”

England’s quarter-final is against either Colombia in Sydney on Saturday.

(Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

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