England captain Leah Williamson has been ruled out of this summer’s World Cup – as Arsenal confirm the Lionesses defender has torn her ACL in another injury ahead of Sarina Wiegman’s European champions
England’s worst fears have come true after it was confirmed that Lionesses captain Leah Williamson will miss this summer’s World Cup with a serious knee injury.
Williamson was forced off in the 15th minute of Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday and the club have now confirmed the defender has torn her anterior cruciate ligament.
The 26-year-old appeared to get her foot into the turf before twisting her knee and immediately admitted she was in pain before being helped off the pitch by the club’s medical staff.
The news is a major blow to club and country and comes just ahead of the Gunners’ Champions League semi-final with Wolfsburg.
It is the Gunners’ third ACL injury this season, with Williamson’s England teammate Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema suffering the same fate late last year.
England captain and Arsenal star Leah Williamson will miss the World Cup with an ACL injury
Sarina Wiegman, who led the Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory, is now without her captain
Mead has previously called for an investigation into why so many female footballers sustain serious knee injuries, with five of the top 16 players in October’s Ballon d’Or vote sidelined by the same issue.
“I think if that happened with Messi, Ronaldo, Griezmann, there’s probably a lot more going on,” Mead said in December.
“I see myself as a pretty robust player, but this still happened. Viv is also a pretty robust player. We’re generally not affected by injuries, so I think we need to look at it a lot more.
“There doesn’t seem to be much research going on. Unfortunately this happened to us, but hopefully it can give someone a kick to go ahead and do something.
“It’s something I’d like to continue – I’ve got plenty of time for that now.”
Mead herself tweeted a message of support for Williamson: “We’re with you every step of the way @leahcwilliamson even though some days I have to be quiet in rehab,” she said.
“We’ve got your girl, all the love and strength in the world.”
The Arsenal central defender tore her anterior cruciate ligament against Manchester United
She received medical attention from the Gunners’ staff during the Women’s Super League clash and subsequently underwent further assessment at Arsenal which confirmed her ACL tear.
A previous study found that female athletes are up to six times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than men. One reason given is that changing hormones during the menstrual cycle can affect the body’s physiology and biomechanics and cause looser joints.
However, the FA conducted its own study of the prevalence of ACL injuries in women’s football over the past four seasons and found that they accounted for just 1.3 per cent of all injuries.
Williamson is now the eleventh player in the Women’s Super League to sustain an ACL injury.
“We can confirm that Leah Williamson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during our Barclays Women’s Super League match against Manchester United on Wednesday night,” said an Arsenal statement.
Leah was substituted in the first half of the game at Leigh Sports Village and underwent further examination on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.
Beth Mead has called for more research into ACL injuries in women’s football – with five of the top 16 players in the Ballon d’Or vote in October – including her – sidelined with serious knee problems
“Leah is now starting a period of rehabilitation and will be on the sidelines for a longer period of time. She will have surgery in due course.
“Everyone at Arsenal will support Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we ask that her privacy be respected at this time.”
Williamson posted on Instagram on Friday, “Until I have the words to properly express my feelings, I will struggle to put them into words. The noise around the situation is loud and I need some silence to let it all sink in.
“Unfortunately the World Cup and Champions League dream is over for me and everyone will think that’s the main focus, but it’s the day-to-day that I go through that is the most exhausting of my thoughts.”