According to Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall, Beth Mead’s long-term knee injury may have been caused by “player loading” in terms of match scheduling.
The England star suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury late in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United last weekend, leaving the striker in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup in eight months.
Mead is out for an “extended period” and will see a surgeon in the coming days to assess the full extent of her injury.
And after Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes criticized match scheduling following the loss of Pernille Harder to a long-term injury, Arsenal boss Eidevall has used the same line of argument when evaluating Mead’s setback.
Ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League match at Juventus this midweek, Eidevall said: “When you see the number of injuries and the schedule, especially for players who play tournaments, it doesn’t help with the injury situation.
“Player loading and fatigue is obviously something we constantly monitor and worry about. If that had been a factor it would have been obvious to us leading up to that game, then we didn’t play her But then it can still happen, so of course it’s difficult.
“The team and people in and around the club have been very supportive of me and I hope Beth can feel that we all care about her and are doing the best for her at a difficult time like this.”
Mead has played 35 games for club and country this calendar year, but 18 of those games have been for England as they went all the way to winning the European Championship in the summer, alongside qualifying for next year’s World Cup and playing international friendly matches.
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News of Mead’s injury comes less than a week later Sky Sports a feature aired on Within the WSL which found that female soccer players 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 ruled out this season alone.
The issue was also raised during the Summer European Championships. Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missed the tournament after tearing her cruciate ligament just days before Spain’s opening match. Simone Magill also suffered the same injury in Northern Ireland’s opening match of the tournament against Norway just days after signing for Aston Villa.
French striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto also stumbled away in their second group game against Belgium, having also torn her ACL. She was one of the favorites to win the Euro 2022 Golden Boot.
Hayes: ‘Outrageous’ players are put in such positions
Before news of Mead’s injury broke, Chelsea manager Hayes said player welfare needs to be looked at, adding that it is “time to put players first”.
Erin Cuthbert has been busy with club and country, while Chelsea have confirmed that midfielder Harder will be out for “a considerable period” following surgery on a hamstring injury suffered on international duty with Denmark.
“I’ve made it clear that the well-being of the players needs to be looked at,” said Hayes. “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 should be an international calendar and yes, I know there will be changes so that maybe they will have international [teams] for longer periods and then for longer periods at their club because it’s really the travel and the in-between periods that create a lot of problems I would say.
“For someone like Pernille, she always wants to do anything, and sometimes it’s not someone’s fault with these injuries. They come for many different reasons.
“But I definitely feel that players playing in World Cups, European Championships, getting two weeks rest between seasons is unacceptable to them. Forget about clubs, players and countries, we have to start putting the players first.”