Beth Mead’s long-term knee injury could have been caused by “player loading” in terms of the fixture list, according to Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall.
The England star injured his ACL late on in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United last weekend, leaving the forward in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup in eight months’ time.
Mead will be out for a “long time” and will visit a surgeon in the coming days to determine the full extent of her injuries.
And after Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes criticized the fixture list after losing Pernille Harder to long-term injury, Arsenal boss Eidevall has used the same argument in his assessment of Mead’s setback.
Eidevall said ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League game away to Juventus in midweek: “When you see the number of injuries, the schedule, especially for players playing tournaments, it doesn’t help the injury situation.
“Player load and fatigue is obviously something we constantly monitor and worry about. If it had been a factor, had it been obvious to us in the run-up to that game, we wouldn’t have played it. But then it can still happen so it’s of course difficult.
“The team and the people in and around the club have been very supportive 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 made 35 appearances for club and country this calendar year, with 18 of those appearances coming for England as they went all the way to win the European Championship this summer, as well as qualifying for next year’s World Cup and playing international friendlies.
Why are there so many ACL injuries in soccer?
News of Mead’s injury comes less than a week later Sky Sports showed a show on Inside the WSL which showed that female soccer players are up to six times more likely to sustain 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 banned this season.
The issue also surfaced during this summer’s European Championships. Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missed the tournament after rupturing her ACL just days before Spain’s opener. Simone Magill also suffered the same injury in Northern Ireland’s tournament opener against Norway, just days after signing for Aston Villa.
France forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto also limped off in her second group game against Belgium, having also torn her ACL. She had been the favorite to win the European Championship 2022 golden boot.
Hayes: “Disgraceful” players are put in such positions
Before news of Mead’s injury broke, Chelsea manager Hayes said player welfare needed to be looked at, adding that it was “time to start putting the players first”.
Erin Cuthbert has struggled for club and country, while Chelsea have confirmed that midfielder Harder will be out for a “significant period” after undergoing surgery on a hamstring injury he suffered on international duty with Denmark.
“I have made it clear that the welfare needs of the players are looking at the players,” Hayes said. “I mean Erin Cuthbert went with Scotland, played on Saturday and they played her again less than 48 hours later on Monday. I think it’s disgraceful that players are put in these positions.
“Yes there needs to be an international calendar and yes I know there will be changes so maybe they can have an international [teams] for a longer period of time and then with his club for a longer period of time because it’s really the travel and in between that causes a lot of problems I would say.
“For someone like Pernille, she always wants to do everything and it’s no one’s fault sometimes with these injuries. They come for many different reasons.
“But I certainly think it’s unacceptable for players who play in the World Cup, the European Championships, to have a two-week break between seasons, forget about players and countries, we need to start putting the players first.”