Arsenal Duo join growing list of top stars that will miss the Womens World Cup

Arsenal and England duo set to miss out on the Women’s World Cup

England Women’s hopes of adding the World Cup title to the European Championship crown they won last year appear to be diminishing with each passing day.

Arsenal duo Leah Williamson and Beth Mead will miss the tournament with injuries, while Chelsea’s Fran Kirby has also been ruled out. Despite the selection headaches, England remain the second favourites amongst the bookies to win the Women’s World Cup this summer.

However, it would undoubtedly be a brave move to bet against the United States winning the tournament for the third time in a row.

Their track record of previous successes suggests they are well-placed to capitalise on the injury problems that have derailed England’s preparations.

Mead suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury earlier this season and is unlikely to be selected despite recently returning to training with Arsenal. Williamson has no chance of featuring in the World Cup after rupturing her ACL just three months before the start of the tournament.

With the Gunners pair not the first high-profile players to sustain this particular injury, questions have been asked about what can be done to prevent it from happening.

Former England star Karen Carney recently added her voice to the debate by calling for more research to be conducted into why female players are so susceptible to serious injuries.

The 35-year-old has urged football’s governing bodies to undertake a review of the development of children in the academy system to determine if training methods can be improved.

“Young boys start their training a lot earlier than girls, and they have better medical care, more expertise and knowledge that makes the transition to the professional game easier,” Carney told the Guardian.

“At academy level, do we have the knowledge of how to look after a young female athlete? I was trained as a male athlete but I am a female and my body is very different and needs to be treated as such.”

Carney questioned whether fatigue is contributing to the number of injuries, with more demands being placed on players as the sport’s rulers strive to grow the women’s game.

She recalled rupturing her ankle ligaments during a warm-up and identified over-tiredness as the key factor in sustaining that injury.

Carney was ruled out for six months, primarily because she was psychologically and physically too tired to perform which made her more susceptible to injury.

Having won 144 caps for England during her career, Carney understands the strain current players are placing on their bodies.

“In recent years the workload for an elite female player has increased because of the growth of the game,” Carney added.

“A top player can play a maximum of 44 games. Three out of every four summers there is a major tournament – whether it is the Olympics, Euros or World Cup.

“The players can cope with the games but we need to allow them sufficient recovery time. For example, Manchester City’s England players won the Euros last summer and 18 days later were playing a Champions League qualifier.

“If footballers are not permitted to rest and recuperate, playing is going to have a greater impact on their body and potentially make them more susceptible to injuries where tiredness will be a factor.”

Carney’s concerns are further highlighted by the number of players who will miss the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand through injury.

Chelsea defender Millie Bright is doubtful with a knee injury she sustained in March and no timetable has been given for her potential return.

Alexia Putellas could miss out for Spain, with the Barcelona star still working her way back to full fitness following a lengthy spell in the treatment room.

Christen Press and Mallory Swanson may be ruled out for the United States, although they should have sufficient strength in depth to cope with their absences.

Ex-Arsenal forward Tobin Heath is another US star who may miss the tournament, while Sam Mewis and Catarina Macario are also doubtful.

Netherlands star Vivianne Miedema is an additional victim of the ACL curse and has already confirmed she will not be able to play at the World Cup. That injury ended her hopes of facing some of her Arsenal teammates this summer and robbed the tournament of one of its top players.

With a large number of players set to miss the World Cup, it is little surprise that Carney has been vocal about the issue.

She acknowledges that several clubs have made great strides with medical care, but believes there is still a long way to go before the women’s game gets to where it needs to be.

“I could continue to list things we need to know more about – and that is the point: we do not have a full understanding of various aspects of elite sportswomen, not just in football, and until we do, they will keep getting injuries that could be prevented,” she said.

Tags Carney England England Lionesses Mead Williamson
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