Fit-again winger Lydia Thompson scored twice against Italy in the pool stages

Women’s Rugby World Cup: England v FranceVenue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast Date: Tuesday, 22 August Kick-off: 19:45 BSTCoverage: Live radio and text commentary only on the BBC Sport website and app.

Lydia Thompson will start on the wing for England in their Rugby World Cup semi-final with France in Belfast on Tuesday, after recovering from a knee injury that caused her to miss the pool-stage victory over the USA.

England’s most-capped player, prop Rochelle Clark, will start from the bench with Vickii Cornborough given the starting loose-head shirt.

After rotating his squad throughout the pool stage, this is the strongest England team named by head coach Simon Middleton in the tournament.

France have suffered a significant blow with the news that flanker Romane Menager, widely acknowledged to have been one of the players of the tournament so far, will miss the game.

England boss Middleton said that Thompson’s swollen knee had brought back memories of the 2014 World Cup, when the winger was forced home by injury.

“It’s a huge relief for all of us [that she’s fit],” he said.

“She’s a quality player first and foremost, but yeah we had flashbacks to 2014 when she got injured in the first game and we just thought ‘we hope that’s not the same scenario again’.

“She deserves to be here and she deserves to participate fully.”

Captain and number eight Sarah Hunter, who will win her 96th cap, is joined in the back row by Alex Matthews and Marlie Packer.

After impressing against the USA, Abbie Scott will start in the second row alongside Tamara Taylor.

Katy Mclean and Rachael Burford are selected at fly-half and inside centre respectively for the defending champions. Danielle Waterman continues at full-back and is the only player to have started every England match so far.

England v France is the second of Tuesday’s semi-finals, with New Zealand taking on the USA at 17:00 BST.

Despite not losing at the World Cup, England have dropped to number two in the world rankings with New Zealand climbing back to number one.

The Black Ferns’ greater margins of victory in their three wins in the pool matches have taken them top.

France have climbed to third and the USA are fifth, while hosts Ireland – who failed to make the semi-finals – have dropped to sixth.

Semi-final teams

England: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies), Kay Wilson (Richmond); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Sarah Bern (Bristol), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Alex Matthews (Richmond), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol, captain)

Replacements: Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Megan Jones (Bristol)

France: Amedee; Guiglion, Ladagnous, Poublan, Izar; Drouin, Rivoalen; Deshayes, Mignot (capt), Duval, Corson, Forlani, Mayans, Annery, N’Diaye.

Replacements: Thomas, Arricastre, Carricaburu, André, Diallo, Le Pesq, Neisen, Pelle


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