Leah Williamson says she wants to be like a ‘new signing’ for Arsenal when she returns from her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
The England captain ruptured her ACL against Manchester United in April, forcing her to miss this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Talking to Sky Sports’ Three Players and a Podcast , Williamson reflected on how she can contribute to the team on her much-anticipated return. “I do joke about it, because now I’m like I’m looking forward to being a new signing,” she said.
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“When I come back, I have a responsibility to add to my team. [I think] ‘how do I come back? How do I add to them?’.
“I joked today about taking pictures and stuff, I don’t need a picture in the kit, take it in January when I’m back, when I’m coming back to offer something.
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“Everyone came back from the World Cup, and it’s quite nice to have people around. I do prefer it being quieter in the gym, but then everyone left again, and it’s probably the first time I’ve really missed football. I’m trying not to be negative.”
Team-mate Jen Beattie also discussed the “incredible” support system Williamson has provided from the sidelines, not least during occasions that were particularly tense, like Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg in May.
“Whoever was on the pitch always felt so backed by the people who were injured, or not able to be a part of those games, because they were big games,” said Beattie.
“The best thing about these guys is they understood the individual, whoever needed a little chat, or a confidence boost or a bit of information. Leah will find it hard saying that about herself so that’s why I can say it, like incredible.
“You see the sort of leader that Leah’s become since captaining the Lionesses, and some of the things that she will say in a meeting, I’ll sit there and say, ‘she’s won the Euros, she knows what it’s like to achieve at the highest level’.”
Forward Beth Mead also suffered an ACL injury last November, but looks set to be in contention for Arsenal’s WSL kick off, as they take on Liverpool on opening weekend.
“I normally don’t enjoy pre-season,” said Mead. “But to have team-mates and people come back again, it’s been quite nice for me to get going and play football.
“It’s been a long time, I’ve been running around with mannequins and coaches for quite a while now – not my favourite thing.
“The likes of Jen (Beattie) and Kim (Little) have been amazing for me and my progress. They’ve actually pushed me and kept me sane for the time when everybody else has been away.”
Owning to various international commitments, including the World Cup and Nations League, Beattie says it’s been a particularly fragmented build-up the new WSL campaign. “It’s definitely been the most disjointed pre-season,” she continued, “in terms of the amount of time we’ve had to get everyone on the same page.
“I couldn’t believe it, we’re playing competitive games two weeks after the World Cup final, like it was mad. Hopefully now that we’ve got everyone in we can get into a flow.
“It feels scary already, the quality we’ve got, and we’ve still not got Viv (Miedema), Leah, Laura (Wienroither) – big players for us not even back on the training pitch yet.”
How to follow the WSL on Sky Sports
Follow all the latest from the Women’s Super League across SkySports.com and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from games live on Sky Sports.
You can also watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel, while all matches will continue to be shown on both Sky Sports Football, as well as on Sky Showcase, available in all Sky homes, even without a Sky Sports package, giving the competition greater visibility.
Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.
The Sky Sports WSL TikTok account gives fans 360° coverage of the league and granting them exclusive access to their new favourite players. Through fun challenges and interviews, along with behind-the-scenes footage, viewers will get to know the WSL’s array of personalities and see the sport from a new set of angles.
Meanwhile, fans can also keep up to date with everything on and off the pitch with the return of Three Players and a Podcast, hosted by Caroline Barker.