Arsenal’s Leah Williamson collapsed in pain in the 12th minute of Wednesday night’s game against Man Utd at Leigh Sports Village, appearing to damage her knee; she immediately signalled to the bench for treatment, eventually being helped from the field as she disappeared down the tunnel
England captain Leah Williamson will be hoping her place at the World Cup is not under threat after limping out of Arsenal’s Women’s Super League loss at Manchester United with a suspected knee injury.
Williamson collapsed in pain just 12 minutes into the game in a top-of-the-table contest, after appearing to damage her knee.
She immediately signalled to the bench for treatment and the stretcher was called to take her off. Williamson stood up herself before being helped off the field of play by two members of the medical staff.
With less than 100 days to go before the World Cup begins this injury could spell bad news for Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses – who have likely lost Beth Mead to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament suffered in November.
After the match, Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said there was no news on how long Williamson could be out for, with the Gunners boss hinting that the Leigh Sports Village pitch contributed to her injury.
“I don’t have too much information on it,” he said after the game. “Of course, it’s not good that she has to come off.
“I think if you see the pitch here today, it is a pitch that has a lot more to ask for and I think it’s going to continue here with the playing schedule. Playing on pitches like that, of course players are going to get injured.
“It is something we all need to improve on, the facilities where we play, if we want to keep the players on the pitch.”
Asked what part of Williamson’s body she injured, Eidvall added: “I don’t know, for me when that has happened, I just know she needs to come off and then I need to take decisions for the team. Now it’s after, I can get the medical information but I haven’t had the time to do that.”
The injury is also a blow to the Gunners’ season run-in, with the injury coming just four days before Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final first leg with German club VfL Wolfsburg.
Arsenal have a long injury list which includes captain Kim Little, who was injured in the Champions League quarter-final win over Bayern Munich, and star striker Vivianne Miedema, who joined Mead in suffering an ACL last winter.
In terms of centre-back options for Wiegman’s England, Millie Bright is Williamson’s regular central defensive partner. The last England squad included centre-backs Lotte Wubben-Moy, Maya Le Tissier and Esme Morgan, with Jess Carter also an option to play in that position.
England also have former captain Steph Houghton, who Williamson replaced as national team captain ahead of the European Championships last summer, but Wiegman admitted her chances of making the World Cup are “not that high”.
With regards to star forward Mead, who was top scorer and Player of the Tournament when the Lionesses lifted last year’s Euros, Wiegman says only a “miracle” could see the Arsenal forward be fit in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Foord: Arsenal injuries are bringing squad together
Caitlin Foord believes Arsenal will show togetherness and fight harder for each other as their injury list grows.
Foord is only just coming back from her own hamstring issue and is in contention to return to the squad in time for the first leg of Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg.
With four of their key players sidelined, the challenge for Eidevall’s side to add to their Continental Cup success this season is getting tougher by the week – but Foord insists those who are available will be putting in the extra yards to make it happen.
“These serious injuries have brought us closer together in a way, they have made other people step up too,” the Australia forward told PA.
“Players like Frida (Maanum), they have stepped in and have been flying. Missing those girls almost makes you want to work harder, fight even harder for each other – for your team-mates on the pitch and those who can’t play.
“You see those girls recovering in the gym and you know they would love to be in your position. You have to make the most of every opportunity – fight for yourself and for them as well because they can’t do it at the moment, as much as they would want to.”
Three Players and a Podcast: The one about international breaks, bright young things and ‘the real deal’!
Jen Beattie, Rachel Yankey and Izzy Christiansen are back together again for a fascinating chat about how they spend their time on international breaks, how they first got into the game and how they knew they’d made it. They also discuss how the game is progressing, but how it still has a way to go to make it accessible for all girls up and down the country.
England’s World Cup group fixtures
All kick-off times in BST
July 22: England vs Haiti (10.30am)
July 28: England vs Denmark (9.30am)
August 1: China vs England (12pm)