England captain’s ‘World Cup dream over’ after she ruptures knee ligament

England captain Leah Williamson has said her “World Cup dream is over” after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in Arsenal’s defeat at Man Utd on Wednesday.

Williamson was taken off after collapsing to the ground only 12 minutes into Arsenal’s 1-0 loss at Leigh Sports Village, with her knee appearing to be the source of her discomfort.

The 26-year-old was able to walk off the pitch at Leigh Sports Village stadium in Manchester, with the assistance of two Arsenal physios.

But a scan revealed she had sustained the serious knee injury, which usually takes at least six months to recover from.

Arsenal Women tweeted: “We can confirm that Leah Williamson suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament on Wednesday night,” adding: “We’re all right behind you, @leahcwilliamson“.

Williamson released a statement on social media shortly after the announcement, saying: “Until I have the words to express my feelings properly, I will struggle to verbalise them.

“The noise around the situation is quite loud and I need some quiet to let it all sink in.

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“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 of what I’m about to go through that is the most draining of my thoughts.”

The injury means Williamson is unlikely to lead the the Lionesses at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which runs from 20 July to 20 August.

England manager Sarina Wiegman is due to announce her squad in late May, ahead of England’s opening game against Haiti on 22 July in Brisbane.

The injury came just a fortnight after Williamson led England to the inaugural Finalissima trophy at Wembley, beating Brazil in a penalty shoot-out to land the second piece of silverware since Wiegman named her as captain ahead of last summer’s Euros.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall initially blamed the Man Utd pitch for Wednesday’s incident and said he was unsure how long Williamson would be unavailable for.

She will undergo surgery in “due course”, Arsenal said.

“Everyone at Arsenal will be supporting Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we would ask that her privacy is respected at this time,” the club said in a statement.

Double blow for England

It is a major blow for England, who will also be without Williamson’s injured Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead – top scorer and player of the tournament at Euro 2022 – for the World Cup.

Read more:
Beth Mead’s journey from small Yorkshire village to pinnacle of women’s football
England’s Lionesses beat Brazil in first-ever Women’s Finalissima

Wiegman said in March, when naming her most-recent squad, that Mead was unlikely to recover from her ACL injury in time to make her World Cup squad.

Manchester City boss Gareth Taylor told his pre-match press conference: “It’s not good for Leah or Arsenal or England.

“Best wishes go to Leah, it’ll be a tough moment for her, especially at this stage of the season.”