Beth Mead returns to Lionesses squad for first time since suffering ACL injury

Beth Mead returns to Lionesses squad for first time since suffering ACL injury

Beth Mead has returned to the England squad for the first time in over a year ahead of the Lionesses’ crunch Women’s Nations League double-header against the Netherlands and Scotland.

The news comes 364 days after Mead confirmed she had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing for Arsenal, an injury which subsequently ruled the Euro 2022 golden boot winner out of this summer’s World Cup.

The 28-year-old recently revealed she went through some “very dark moments” as she dealt with not only missing the World Cup due to a long-term injury, but also the loss of her mum, who died in January after a battle with cancer.

Mead returned to action with Arsenal last month, but England manager Sarina Wiegman said she was not ready for international selection. However, the forward has since picked up more minutes for the Gunners and made her first start of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Brighton in the Women’s Super League.

“Of course, that’s really nice,” manager Wiegman said after announcing her squad. “She’s played minutes and is in a good place and still building too. It was a very nice phone call and she was very happy.

“We’ve had phone calls all the time, since September, and October too, because she was training and getting some minutes, but I wanted to see more. Her health now is really good, she can just go. We hope she keeps improving, but she showed enough for me to bring her in.

“She is a character who brings positive energy on and off pitch, her experience, the way she plays, she is different to other players on the wing. We expect on and off pitch it gives us extra energy.”

Sarina Wiegman said Mead is a player who brings ‘positive energy on and off pitch’ (Getty)
Sarina Wiegman said Mead is a player who brings ‘positive energy on and off pitch’ (Getty)

Mead’s last appearance for the Lionesses came in a 4-0 victory over Japan last November and her return comes at a key time ahead of must-win fixtures against the Netherlands at Wembley on Friday 1 December and Scotland at Hampden Park the following Tuesday.

The Lionesses’ hopes of earning Team GB a spot at next summer’s Olympics Games were dealt a significant blow following a shock defeat in Belgium last month, just the fourth suffered since Wiegman took charge.

It means England trail both the Netherlands and Belgium in Nations League Group A, with three points separating the three sides, leaving the Lionesses requiring victories against the Dutch and Scotland while hoping other results also go their way.

“We know we’ll need to win our last two games of 2023 and we’ll give everything we have for that outcome,” Wiegman added. “This group have shown resilience and strength of character time and time again, and I have absolutely no doubts we’ll be ready to go when the whistle blows for both fixtures.

“We always embrace the opportunity to play at Wembley, it’s been home to some of our biggest and happiest occasions. We’ll need the crowd to play their part and continue the incredible backing they’ve shown for the team. They’ve always been there when we need them and we’ll need them once again.

“An away fixture against Scotland is also an occasion we’ll all look forward to, but we’ll take it one game at a time.”

Wiegman has named a 23-player squad for the clashes against her former side Netherlands and rivals Scotland, with no place for Manchester City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck or Manchester City forward Jess Park, who is replaced by Mead.

Uncapped City goalkeeper Khiara Keating, 19, and Tottenham’s on-loan midfielder Grace Clinton, 20, retain their places after receiving their first call-ups in October’s squad, as does Euros winner Fran Kirby, who marked her return from a year-long injury absence in the home win against Belgium.

England squad for Netherlands and Scotland

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), Khiara Keating (Manchester City)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Grace Clinton (Tottenham Hotspur, loan from Manchester United), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Arsenal)