Keira Walsh was stretchered off with a knee injury (PA)
The state of the pitches at the Women’s World Cup have been heavily criticised after England star Keira Walsh suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury during the Lionesses’ game against Denmark.
Midfielder Walsh got her boot stuck in the turf during the first half at Allianz Stadium in Sydney and twisted her knee as she fell to the ground. The 26-year-old looked to be in serious pain and was eventually stretchered off, replaced by Laura Coombs.
The incident comes amid growing concern about the number of ACL tears in women’s football with the likes of England captain Leah Williamson, winger Beth Mead, Netherlands superstar Vivianne Miedema, Canada forward Janine Beckie and USA’s rising Cat Macario just some of those missing the tournament with that specific injury.
Speaking on the BBC at half-time of England vs Denmark, pundit Jonas Eidevall – who is head coach at Arsenal – slammed the state of the pitches as “not good enough” and believes the turf needs to be watered to improve player welfare.
“I think it looks very dry,” said Eidevall. “You could see on the movement that when she [Walsh] tries to slide with her right foot, it stops and then twists her knee.
“I think another example of that was the celebration for the first goal. Lauren James tries to knee slide but when she does that on the pitch, she just stops and falls over.
“It looks funny but it’s a danger to player welfare to have such a dry pitch. It should allow you to slide through. It’s not good enough.
“I’m a big advocate of watering the pitches, it makes the passes go faster but it also prevents situations like this. It’s these stopping mechanisms that a lot of the time cause these serious injuries.”
Walsh appeared to be in serious pain as she was stretchered off (AFP via Getty Images)
England led 1-0 when Walsh’s injury occurred and if she is ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup, that would be a huge blow to the Lionesses’ chances of lifting the title.
The Barcelona midfielder is the beating heart of England’s midfield and speaking as a pundit for the BBC, ex-Lioness Ellen White commiserated with her former teammate.
“I’m devastated for her to be honest,” said White. “She’s been one of the best if not the best player for England. She knew it didn’t look good. She’ll be a big miss. I’m devastated for her.”
Walsh had expressed her concern about the number of injuries being suffered in an interview earlier this month and urged greater resource to be poured into the game.
“I think there is a massive worry,” Walsh said at the time. “Look at the resources the men have as well, I don’t think that’s available to us and we are being asked to play close to what they play in a season now without the kind of resources behind it.
“The medical teams, they work so hard but it’s impossible to keep everybody fresh all the time and we’re playing so many games and I think – with the introduction of the Nations League as well – it’s going to be difficult and you see how many ACL injuries there have been and how many players are getting injured.
“I would be lying if I say it’s not a worry for me every time I go on the pitch that I’m going to get injured next.”