England veteran Rachel Daly has revealed she is ruling out the frightening possibility of falling victim to the devastating injury crisis in women’s football and the World Cup.
Midfielder Keira Walsh was carried off with a suspected knee injury in the first half of the Lionesses’ 1-0 group stage win over Denmark on Friday. She was later on crutches, raising fears she might join England’s Beth Mead and Leah Williamson in the list of players ruled out of the 2023 tournament for the same anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that disproportionately affects women .
There was no update on Walsh’s condition as of Saturday night in Sydney, three days before the Lionesses play China in Adelaide and aim to exit Group D as leaders.
Daly said: “I don’t think you can think about it. To me, those three letters scare you absolutely, you know what.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Keira, toes, everything, but that’s football, isn’t it? It’s a tough question, but I hope she’s okay.
“I think it’s hard to lose someone, but a player with Keira’s skills is hard to lose. It’s an integral part of the way we play and it’s tough, but that’s why Sarina put together a squad, we have depth and [Laura Coombs] came and worked really well. It’s obviously disappointing and heartbreaking for Keira, but hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”
England manager Sarina Wiegman made no changes to her starting XI during the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 winning campaign but opted for two changes since England’s opening 1-0 win over Haiti on Friday.
Women’s Super League (WSL) Golden Boot winner Daly, who was named forward for the tournament, returned at left-back where she started every game at the European Championships, while Chelsea’s Lauren James took over the post left wing was given to Lauren Hemp.
It proved a smart move after Daly set up James’ first World Cup goal after six minutes against Denmark. That goal was also ultimately enough to maintain England’s 100 per cent record and put them in the best position to finish first in Group D with a point against China.
Daly said: “I say it all the time, but I’m honored to put this shirt on whenever I can. I will play any position. It’s not the game I play regularly for my club, but it’s something I’m familiar with nonetheless.
“I think I did well, I still need to make some improvements to my game in this position, but that’s okay, I’m learning from it, I’ll analyze it, I’ll correct it and move on to the next game. “For me it’s just about getting on the pitch and doing what I can for the team.”
The 31-year-old Aston Villa forward also praised James, a decade her junior, who is being hotly touted as the future of the England squad and backed by Blues coach Emma Hayes as a crucial force for the Lionesses in their quest for a debut World Cup .
Daly said: “Yeah, LJ is just a strength in her own right, she’s phenomenal and you’ve seen what she can do, glimpses of what she can do. I can’t give her credit for anything she does, she’s just an incredible person and player.”