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Beth Mead reveals target for return from ACL injury

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England star Beth Mead aims to return from an ACL injury in time to play at the 2023 World Cup next summer, with the Lionesses hoping to build on this year’s European Championship triumph.

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Mead was named player of the tournament at Euro 2022, as well as taking home the Golden Boot award. Those achievements saw the Arsenal forward finish second to Alexia Putellas in the 2022 Ballon d’Or and become the first female footballer to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Having conquered Europe, Mead was expected to be one of stars of the next World Cup, where England will begin in a group with Denmark, China and a final qualifier that will determine who joins them from either Chile, Senegal or Haiti. But she is a significant doubt for the tournament as a result of a ruptured ACL suffered in the closing stages of Arsenal’s WSL clash with Manchester United on 19 November.

England’s first World Cup game is a few days over eight months on from that date, which Mead is hoping is enough time for her to recover and be back in action.

The 27-year-old, who arrived at the BBC SPOTY ceremony on crutches – although she didn’t need them all night and later appeared on stage without the walking aids – had successful surgery on her injured knee earlier in December. As such, her mind is now on recovery and rehab.

“I will do my utmost to get to the World Cup,” Mead said, via BBC Sport.

“This is an injury where you can have good and bad days but I’ll be working hard behind the scenes with Arsenal. Recovery from the injury can go from six to nine months so I will be pushing for the quickest time possible.”

A six-month recovery would see Mead fit again in May, potentially in time for the end of the WSL season – the final round of fixtures take place on 28 May. There is an almost two-month gap after the domestic campaign before the World Cup, but either way it will be a race against time.

No two ACL injuries are the same. But for reference purposes, Chloe Kelly, England’s other Euro 2022 hero, missed 11 months from May 2021 to April 2022. Meanwhile, Manchester United centre-back Aoife Mannion is set to return to action in January 2023, 11 months after an ACL injury in February.

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