England captain Leah Williamson will miss this summer’s World Cup after rupturing her anterior cruciate knee ligament.
Arsenal confirmed the worst fears around the injury the 26-year-old suffered during Wednesday’s Women’s Super League defeat by Manchester United.
The Gunners said in a statement: “Leah will now begin a period of rehabilitation and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. She will undergo surgery in due course.
“Everyone at Arsenal will be supporting Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we would ask that her privacy is respected at this time.”
Williamson collapsed in pain in the 12th minute of the 1-0 loss at Leigh Sports Village after appearing to catch her studs in the turf before limping off.
Writing on Instagram, Williamson said: “Until I have the words to express my feelings properly I will struggle to verbalise them. The noise around the situation is loud and I need some quiet to let it all sink in.
“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 about to go through that is the most draining of my thoughts.”
The news is a huge blow to both club and country, with England’s first World Cup match against Haiti taking place on July 22.
England boss Sarina Wiegman is expecting to be without last year’s European Championship player of the tournament Beth Mead, who suffered the same injury last November.
Williamson is the third key Arsenal player along with Mead and Vivianne Miedema to rupture cruciate ligaments this season, while captain Kim Little is also out with a hamstring problem.
Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall criticised the quality of playing surfaces in the WSL after Wednesday’s game, saying: “Of course it’s not good that she had to come off.
“I think it’s going to continue here with the schedule we have and pitches like that, players are going to get injured. That is something that we all need to improve on, the facilities where we play, so we can keep the players on the pitch.”