Beth Mead has been ruled out of England’s training camp in Qatar after picking up a knee injury against Chelsea at the weekend while Lisa Evans has become the third Arsenal withdrawal.
Mead has, once again, been a standout player for Arsenal this season and her injury comes at a time when the Injury Gods seem to be striking down all the best Arsenal players. Danielle van de Donk was the latest to pick up a problem – with her thigh – so we must all cross everything we have that Vivianne Miedema returns in one piece and doesn’t succumb to the curse.
The news that Mead withdrew came a couple of days ago but there has been no update from Arsenal regarding the injury nor how long she is likely to be sidelined for.
The trip to Qatar represents a change for the England team who have trained in La Manga, Spain, for the last three years and harks back to Neville’s time with United when Sir Alex Ferguson took the Red Devils to Qatar to train at the Aspire Academy’s complex.
The Guardian reported that “Early last year the FA signed a “memorandum of understanding” with its Qatari counterparts to “share resources and expertise and develop knowledge and understanding” of football issues. It is understood the camp will partly serve as a reconnaissance mission for the 2022 World Cup.”
Quite what the Qataris can share with England in terms of footballing knowledge is not clear however they do have one thing that many in the west like to get their hands on:
“We’re all really looking forward to meeting up for our first camp of 2019,” Neville said. “After a well-earned break in December, most of the players are back in club action and will be ready to push on.
“The She Believes Cup is a demanding tournament with quality opposition. This training camp in Qatar is crucial for our preparation, as we begin an important year.”
Neville has also recalled Demi Stokes and Jade Moore after their injury problems.
Lisa Evans, Scotland, was also called up for this international break but has, like Mead and van de Donk, withdrawn. Evans played against Chelsea at the weekend and, at the time of writing, her injury is unspecified.
Arsenal return on 27 January when they face Reading in the WSL.