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England & Arsenal captain Leah Williamson will miss World Cup

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England captain Leah Williamson has said her World Cup “dream is over” after her club Arsenal confirmed she has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Williamson went down in the first half of Arsenal’s 1-0 Women’s Super League loss to Manchester United on Wednesday.

“The noise around the situation is loud and I need some quiet time to let it all sink in,” the defender, 26, said.

England’s opening World Cup match with Haiti takes place on 22 July.

Arsenal face Wolfsburg in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Sunday (14:30 BST).

Williamson added: “Unfortunately the World Cup and Champions League dream is over for me and everyone will think that is the main focus, but it’s the day to day of what I am about to go through that is the most draining of my thoughts.

“I had my tears and made my peace with it the night it happened and since then I have been following the steps I’m told to, in order to best help myself in the sport and long term.”

ACL injuries typically see sportspeople sidelined for six to nine months.

Arsenal said she would have surgery “in due course”.

Williamson, who captained England to their European Championship victory in 2022, is the latest injury setback for Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses.

ACL injuries typically see sports players sidelined for six to nine months.

England are already expecting to travel to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand without Beth Mead, who finished top scorer last summer, because of an ACL injury.

There are doubts over Chelsea forward Fran Kirby’s availability, having been out of action since February.

Chelsea defender Millie Bright has also been on crutches with a knee injury sustained in March.

WSL defends pitch standards after Eidevall warning

Williamson was injured after just 15 minutes of Wednesday’s WSL match at Leigh Sports Village after falling awkwardly while chasing possession and immediately signaling that she needed to be replaced.

A stretcher was initially brought on to the pitch, but a limping Williamson was able to walk off with support from a member of Arsenal’s medical staff.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said afterwards: “You see the pitch, it is a pitch that has a lot more to [be desired]. I think it’s going to continue here with the schedule we have and pitches like that, players are going to get injured.”

He added that facilities need to improve to “keep players on the pitch”.

On Friday a WSL spokesperson said pitches at WSL stadiums are monitored throughout the season with “steps taken” to support clubs where necessary.

Arsenal have already been impacted by serious injuries to key players this season including captain Kim Little, Ballon d’Or runner-up Mead and last season’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema.

‘With you every step of the way’ – support for Williamson

Williamson received plenty of support on social media with the England national team responding on Instagram: “You’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Team-mate Mead said on Twitter: “We are with you every step of the way, even if I have to be quiet some days in rehab.

“We got you girl, all the love and strength in the world.”

Meanwhile Fifpro, a global union for professional footballers, said on Twitter: “As news of Leah Williamson’s World-Cup-ending ACL injury breaks, the words of her England team-mate Beth Mead have never rung truer.


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