England captain Leah Williamson added to pre-World Cup injury tally
With the World Cup around the corner, the USWNT is not the only powerhouse left scrambling after a last-minute injury has shaken up a nearly solidified starting line-up.
Tell someone they’ll be spending the next half year or more in the training room seeing more of their physical therapist than their family, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Tell a 26-year-old in her prime that she’s giving up her ticket to the world’s biggest stage and must now suffer an agonizingly long 4-year wait for her next chance … well that’s the kind of pain that crushes your soul.
Despite a somewhat surprising loss to Australia on April 11, England has been thriving. The Euro champs added another piece of hardware to their trophy case after a win against Brazil earned them the title of Finalissima champions.
With the momentum England garnered, they seemed destined to, at a minimum, make a deep run in the World Cup.
But instead of leading her country through their World Cup journey, Williamson will be watching from home and England is left without their trusty captain and defensive anchor.
England’s injury plague doesn’t end with Williamson, however. Heavyweights Millie Bright, Beth Mead, and Fran Kirby are nursing knee injuries that could potentially eliminate them from World Cup contention as well.
With their captain out, there is now an intensified focus on Millie Bright’s return. The center back who alongside Williamson has been critical to England’s defensive success is also a natural contender for the captaincy.
Without Williamson and Bright, England lacks the defensive stability and leadership it needs to fend off the world’s best strikers.
Though you’d never wish injury on anyone, other countries with a real shot at World Cup victory have to be looking at England’s woes with some relief.
The last-minute exit of Leah Williamson from roster contention coupled with an already concerning injured player list is one of the few things that could shake an English squad still riding their Euros confidence high.
Even if England is fortunate enough to recover a handful of the star-studded names on their injured list, they’ll hardly be getting these players back in peak form.
So who will lead? And will they be leading a rag-tag group of mismatched substitutes? From the outside, it’s beginning to look as though England’s run at a World Cup title might just be over before it’s even begun.