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World Cup injury tracker: England’s Keira Walsh avoids ACL tear

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England's Keira Walsh returned to the bench on crutches after exiting her team's 1-0 win against Denmark with an injury. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

France’s Wendie Renard returned in triumph on Saturday, while Haiti’s Jennyfer Limage received the unfortunate distinction of sustaining the first torn ACL of the 2023 World Cup.

Just Women’s Sports is keeping track of the biggest names dealing with injuries at the tournament, which kicked off July 20.


Possible to return

Keira Walsh, England

The 26-year-old midfielder exited England’s 1-0 win against Denmark on July 28 with an apparent knee injury. Walsh twisted awkwardly while trying to intercept a pass, and she could be seen telling team medical staff: “I’ve done my knee.”

After she was stretchered off the field in the first half, she returned to the sidelines in the second half on crutches. On Saturday, the Football Association confirmed that Walsh has avoided an ACL tear,  but has been ruled out of the team’s match against China and her status is in doubt for the remainder of the World Cup.

Ada Hegerberg, Norway

After being named to Norway’s Starting XI against Switzerland on July 25, star forward Ada Hegerberg was pulled moments before kickoff.

The former Ballon D’Or winner felt discomfort in her groin while warming up for the match, Fox Sports reported. She was evaluated by the team doctor and returned to the locker room to receive treatment, according to Norwegian TV. Following the game, Hegerberg addressed her absence on Twitter.

“I felt discomfort when sprinting right after the anthems,” she wrote. “We decided with the staff that no risk should be taken and no subs should be wasted in such an important game for us, and we all trusted Sophie, Karina, and the team to do the job, which they did. We move on.”

Marina Hegering, Germany

Defender Marina Hegering missed Germany’s first match against Morocco with a bruised heel.

Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik, Australia

Australia will be without Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik for at least its second group-stage match after the duo sustained mild concussions in separate incidents during practice on July 25. Both have “fully recovered” and are in return to play protocol, per the team. But as of 2018, Football Australia’s return to play protocol “provides for a minimum of six days before the player can play a competitive game.” Australia plays its third and final group-stage match on July 31.

Sam Kerr, Australia

Two hours before Australia’s World Cup opener, the star striker announced that she would miss the Matildas’ first two group-stage games with a calf injury.

“Unfortunately I sustained a calf injury yesterday in training,” she wrote. “I wanted to share this with everyone so there is no distraction from us doing what we came here to achieve. Of course, I would have loved to have been out there tonight but I can’t wait to be apart of this amazing journey which starts now.”

Even without Kerr, Australia pulled off a 1-0 win against Ireland thanks to a penalty from Steph Catley in the second half. They lost to Nigeria 2-1, however, in their next match.

Kerr said Saturday she is “definitely going to be available” for the team’s game against Canada, while coach Tony Gustavsson noted that the time frame is “tight.”

Lena Oberdorf, Germany

Star midfielder Lena Oberdorf missed Germany’s first match against Morocco with a thigh injury.

“It looks as if we won’t be able to fall back on either of them in the first game,” head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said of Oberdorf and Hegering. But even without the pair, Germany pulled off an impressive 6-0 win.


Out for World Cup

Jennyfer Limage, Haiti

Haitian defender Jennyfer Limage will be out for the rest of the World Cup after tearing her ACL and rupturing her meniscus in her team’s 1-0 loss to England on July 22. Limage had to be carried off the field and is slated to undergo surgery.

Her injury marks the first ACL tear of the World Cup and continues what has become a growing injury trend in the women’s game, with a number of stars missing this year’s World Cup due to ACL tears.


Returned to play

Denise O’Sullivan, Ireland

O’Sullivan went down with a shin injury during an “overly physical” friendly on July 14 between Ireland and Colombia, which was halted after 20 minutes. The 29-year-old midfielder was taken to the hospital for treatment after the match was abandoned.

O’Sullivan underwent scans, with the team tweeting out that the results were “positive news,” and she played in the World Cup against Australia on July 20.

Wendie Renard, France

The France captain underwent an MRI on July 24 after feeling pain in her calf. She briefly appeared at training, where she spoke with the team doctor and later left the field, according to L’Équipe.

French media outlet Le Progrès has reported that Renard’s injury could keep her out of France’s final two group-stage matches. The injury is similar to one she suffered prior to the 2022 club season with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, which kept her out of play for a month, the outlet noted.

But Renard made her return on Saturday, even after her status was unclear on the eve of the match.

“Our hope is that everything goes well because we need her,” France coach Herve Renard said Friday night. “We are not sure tonight 100%. Our trainings are quite intense and we will have to see how things happen once we face the match.”

Renard was ready to go, playing the full 90 and even scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute.


Did not appear at World Cup

Janine Beckie, Canada

The 28-year-old forward tore her ACL during a preseason NWSL game in March. She later confirmed in an Instagram post that she will miss this summer’s World Cup after helping Canada to its first Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer in 2021.

“Having worked so hard during off-season for what was set to be one of the biggest seasons of my career, defending the title for @thornsfc and of course playing in the World Cup for Canada, being out for an extended period of time is a difficult pill to swallow,” she wrote.

Delphine Cascarino, France

French winger Delphine Cascarino suffered a partial ACL tear while playing for Lyon in a league win over Paris-Saint Germain on May 21. As a result, she will be sidelined for “several months” and will miss the World Cup.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take part in the World Cup this summer with my teammates, whom I’ll be supporting from here,” Cascarino said on Instagram.

Cascarino has made 56 appearances for France, scoring 14 goals. Her loss is a blow to France’s chances at the World Cup, as the team also could find itself without Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who is still making her way back from an ACL tear.

Amandine Henry, France

The midfielder was ruled out of the World Cup on July 7 after sustaining a calf injury while training with the France national team two days earlier. She underwent an MRI that confirmed the diagnosis, France coach Hervé Renard said.

Henry, who signed a three-year contract with Angel City FC in June, will be replaced on the roster by Aïssatou Tounkara, the French Football Federation announced.

The former French captain had recently returned to the national team after a longstanding dispute with Corinne Diacre, who was fired as head coach in March due to a “very significant divide” within the team.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto, France

The 24-year-old striker tore her ACL last July during the Euros tournament. She reportedly had to pull back from her recovery at the beginning of the year, and while she has since resumed running and weight-bearing exercises, she will be unable to join France at the World Cup.

Katoto underwent medical exams on May 30 at the training ground for the France women’s national team, and she was ruled unfit to participate in the tournament, French news agency AFP reported. France coach Herve Renard will reveal his World Cup roster on June 6.

Fran Kirby, England

Kirby is slated to undergo surgery on a knee injury she sustained in February, which will keep her out of World Cup contention, she revealed on May 2.

The 29-year-old midfielder had been trying to rehab her knee since exiting the pitch during a Chelsea match on Feb. 9. But after a reassessment with a specialist and the Chelsea medical team, she will have surgery to repair the injury. Details of the injury have not been disclosed.

“I have been trying my best to not have to undergo this but unfortunately my progress has been limited due to the issue in my knee,” Kirby wrote in a social media post. “I’m absolutely gutted to announce that this means my season is over and I will not be able to make the World Cup in the summer.”

Catarina Macario, United States

After tearing her ACL last June, the initial recovery timeline would have had the 23-year-old back on the pitch in plenty of time for this summer’s World Cup. But she “won’t be physically ready for selection,” she announced on May 23.

“The desire to return to play for my club and country has driven my training and fueled my everyday life,” she wrote. “However, what’s most important right now is my health and getting fit and ready for my next club season.”

Beth Mead, England

Another Arsenal injury, the 27-year-old striker ruptured her ACL last November during Women’s Super League play.

While Mead said in early May that she was “ahead of schedule” in her recovery, she did not make the England roster for the World Cup, as revealed on May 31.

Sam Mewis, United States

After dealing with a nagging injury since the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021, the 30-year-old midfielder underwent knee surgery in January.

“I don’t have a timeline for return to soccer,” she said after the surgery, all but certainly cementing her absence from the U.S. women’s national team lineup for the World Cup.

Vivianne Miedema, Netherlands

Miedema went down with a torn ACL while playing for Arsenal in December. The all-time leading scorer for the Netherlands, the 26-year-old forward ruled herself out of the World Cup in a statement.

“I won’t be able to help my team anymore this season, no World Cup, surgery and rehab for a long time,” she said.

Hazel Nali, Zambia

Zambia’s starting goalkeeper Hazel Nali will miss the World Cup after suffering an ACL tear. The announcement came on July 12, mere days before the World Cup kicks off on July 20.

Nali has been a standout in net for Zambia, making her senior national team debut in 2014. She played for the senior team at the 2014 African Women’s Championship, the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations and the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship, as well as at the Tokyo Olympics.

Christen Press, United States

The 34-year-old forward has had three surgeries on the same knee in eight months since she tore the ACL in her right knee last June during the NWSL regular season.

She has yet to feature for Angel City FC this season and is still listed under a season-ending injury designation carried over from 2022. Press had held out hope for a spot on the plane to New Zealand, but she was not selected to coach Vlatko Andonovski’s final 23-player roster as she continues to recover.

“There has never been a moment where I lost hope and that I took my focus off of the World Cup, from the moment that I got injured until now,” Press said in May. “It’s the North Star for all of us professional players and it’s a motivation.”

Katie Rood, New Zealand

The 30-year-old forward has “joined the ACL club,” she announced Monday via Instagram.

Rood tore her ACL while playing for Heart of Midlothian WFC in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. A member of the New Zealand national team since 2017, she’s made 15 appearance and notched five goals.

“Obviously gutted about it,” she wrote. “I have intended to return to NZ in June for a training camp to have one final crack at making the World Cup team. Looks like life has other plans for me.. and as gutted as I am about the World Cup dream being over, I’m beginning to look forward to seeing what other opportunities are out there for me.”

Becky Sauerbrunn

USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn was ruled out of the World Cup due to a lingering foot injury, in news she confirmed days before the team’s roster reveal.

The starting center-back said she, too, had held out “like 10% hope” of making the U.S. roster, but ultimately her timeline for recovery did not match up with the USWNT’s needs.

“It sucks, like it’s such a bummer,” she said on the Snacks podcast. “I really thought that I was gonna get back in time. Had a setback, you know, we gave them timelines where I could feasibly have played minutes at the World Cup. But the variability of it was, they just didn’t want to have to deal with that.”

Mallory Swanson, United States

Swanson’s injury is not a torn ACL, but it’s just as serious: a torn patellar tendon. The 24-year-old forward had surgery to repair the ligament, which she tore in the USWNT’s first April match against Ireland. Patellar tendon tears typically have at least a six-month recovery timeline, although that can extend to as long as 12 months, so Swanson will miss the World Cup.

Leah Williamson, England

The 26-year-old Arsenal defender tore her ACL during an April match.

“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 going through that’s the most draining of my thoughts,” she said in an Instagram post.