Keira Walsh fears injury ‘every time I go on the pitch’ due to increased load

Keira Walsh fears injury ‘every time I go on the pitch’ due to increased load

Keira Walsh admits she is fearful of picking up an injury as the increasing load on players in women’s football shows no sign of abating.

The Barcelona midfielder starred as England won the Women’s European Championship on home soil last summer and will be aiming to replicate the success at the World Cup later this month.

Walsh won the league and Champions League double in her first season with the Spanish giants, making 29 appearances alongside her 11 caps for the Lionesses.

With the women’s game continuing to grow, more fixtures are being added to the calendar, with the Nations League the latest competition to cross over from men’s football.

Leah Williamson suffered a serious knee injury in Arsenal's Women's Super League clash with Manchester United
Leah Williamson suffered a serious knee injury in Arsenal’s Women’s Super League clash with Manchester United (Simon Marper/PA)

England captain Leah Williamson and Euro 2022 golden boot winner Beth Mead will both miss the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand due to serious knee injuries, just two of several players to be struck by similar issues recently.

Walsh feels the resources behind women’s football do not allow for the same protection as their male counterparts as she conceded she is always concerned by being sidelined.

“I think there is a massive worry,” she told the PA news agency.

“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.

“More growth, more investment – that’s what we want. It’s what fans of women’s football have been calling for – but it can’t be at the detriment to player’s health – not just physical health but mental health is really important as well.”

Walsh, 26, believes close friend Williamson and Mead will still have a part to play as their team-mates aim for World Cup glory Down Under, with the Arsenal pair having already been in and around the squad as they prepare for the finals.

“Regardless of their injuries, they are two vital members of the squad and I think they can still add value,” Walsh added.

“I’m sure Sarina (Wiegman), as manager, will keep them involved in some capacity and when you’ve been with each other for six weeks, to see some fresh faces and hear some new voices is also nice and I’m sure we’ll miss them.”

Before jetting off to Australia, Walsh took time out to return home to Rochdale and participate in a Fun Football session organised by McDonald’s to give children access to football.

With the England squad coming from the length and breadth of the country, such sessions are key – according to Walsh.

Keira Walsh is aiming to add a World Cup title to the Women's Euros medal secured last summer
Keira Walsh is aiming to add a World Cup title to the Women’s Euros medal secured last summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I think if you look at where each of the Lionesses are from, we’re really spread out,” she said.

“For me in Rochdale, I think it’s really cool to see that there’s going to be a free football session for girls to attend.

“I think it takes the pressure off the parents and the girls can just focus on having fun. When I was younger, I for sure would have wanted to go to something like that. Hopefully we can keep pushing the increase in girls playing football.”

:: Keira Walsh was speaking to celebrate the opening of McDonald’s Fun Football sessions in Lionesses’ home towns during the Women’s World Cup. Keira hopes to encourage the next generation of young girls to get involved. Sign up to your nearest free session at mcdonalds.co.uk/football