SYDNEY — England star Lauren James has been hit with a two-match suspension by FIFA for the red card she picked up against Nigeria.

The length of suspension means that if England beat Colombia on Saturday then James will miss the semifinal against either Australia or France. However, the two-match ban means she will be available for the final or third-place playoff depending on how the Lionesses fare if they reach the final four.

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James was shown a red card in the 87th minute of England’s round-of-16 match against Nigeria after she was seen stamping on Michelle Alozie‘s back. England eventually got through the tricky tie 4-2 on penalties but had to manage extra time with 10 players.

She could have picked up a three-match suspension — therefore ending her World Cup — but the FIFA disciplinary committee deemed the offence worthy of a two-match ban, the lower end of the scale for serious foul play.

The 21-year-old has since issued a public apology, posting to her Instagram account: “All my love and respect to [Michelle Alozie]. I am sorry for what happened.

“Also, for our England fans and my teammates, playing with and for you is my greatest honour and I promise to learn from my experience.”

James made her first World Cup start for England against Denmark and scored the winner in their 1-0 win. Against China she was the star player as England won 6-1 with James scoring twice and contributing three assists.

But then came the Nigeria match where she had a frustrating game and was shown a red card late on for that stamp on Alozie.

The England squad have since rallied around her.

“She’s doing good,” Bethany England said Thursday. “Obviously she was disappointed with what happened on the day. It was a split-second emotional moment that happened. We got round her. It’s good she acknowledged that and put her apology out.”

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