England and Arsenal star Beth Mead has suffered an ACL injury which puts her World Cup participation in doubt.
The Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner will visit a surgeon in the coming days but is expected to be out for an “extended period”, Arsenal have confirmed, with next summer’s World Cup just eight months away.
The forward, who has scored 37 goals in 102 appearances for her club and 29 goals in 50 for her country, sustained the injury during Arsenal’s 3-2 loss at home to Manchester United at the weekend.
“We can confirm that Beth Mead suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our match against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday,” an Arsenal statement read.
“Unfortunately, this means that Beth is set for an extended period on the sidelines. She will see a surgeon in the coming days, after which further details on timescales will be established.
“Everyone at the club will now be supporting Beth and working hard to get her back on the pitch as soon as possible.”
Mead has scored three goals in the WSL and two in the Champions League for the Gunners this season, which follows her starring role in England’s triumph at the Euros during the summer.
She was named player of the tournament and claimed the Golden Boot with six goals, and last month was named Ballon d’Or runner-up.
England will be back in major tournament action next summer at the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand, from July 20.
It has been an extremely challenging month for Mead, who recently defended herself over comments attributed to her in an interview with The Guardian in which she was quoted as saying the lack of diversity in the England Women squad was “a coincidence”.
Speaking after England’s 4-0 friendly win over Japan earlier this month, Mead told Sky Sports News that the article was “unfair” and not a “true reflection” of herself.
Mead withdrew from the England squad the following day due to family circumstances, having won her 50th cap for the Lionesses in the win against Japan.
News of Mead’s injury comes less than a week after Sky Sports aired a feature on Inside the WSL that showed female footballers are up to six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts.
West Ham’s Jessica Ziu, Aston Villa’s Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and Tottenham duo Kyah Simon and Ellie Brazil are just some of the players to be ruled out this season alone.
The issue also came to the fore during the summer’s European Championships. Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missed the tournament after rupturing her ACL just days before Spain’s opening game. Simone Magill also picked up the same injury in Northern Ireland’s opening game of the tournament against Norway, just days after signing for Aston Villa.
France striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto also limped off in their second group game against Belgium, having also ruptured her ACL. She had been one of the favourites to win the Euro 2022 Golden Boot.
Hayes: ‘Outrageous’ players are put in such positions
Speaking before news broke of Mead’s injury, Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes said player welfare needed looking at, adding that it is “time to start putting players first”.
Erin Cuthbert has faced a busy run with club and country, while Chelsea have confirmed midfielder Pernille Harder will be out for “a significant period” after undergoing surgery for a hamstring injury suffered on international duty with Denmark.
“I’ve made it clear that player welfare needs looking at for the players,” Hayes said.
“I mean Erin Cuthbert went away with Scotland, played on Saturday and they played her again less than 48 hours later on a Monday. I think it’s outrageous that players are put in these positions.
“Yes, there has to be an international calendar and yes I know there are going to be changes so that they can perhaps be with international [teams] for longer periods and then with their club for longer periods, because it’s really the travel and the in between which cause a lot of problems, I would say.
“For someone like Pernille she always wants to do everything, and it’s not the fault of anybody sometimes with these injuries. They come for many different reasons.
“But I certainly feel players playing in World Cups, European Championships, being given two weeks’ rest in between seasons is unacceptable for them, forget clubs players and countries, we need to start putting the players first.”