The last we saw of Beth England on a football pitch was during England’s run to the World Cup final this past summer. Shortly after the striker was named Tottenham Hotspur Women’s new club captain, the club announced that the prolific striker, who basically single-handedly kept Tottenham from being relegated last season, had undergone hip surgery and would miss significant time at the start of the season.
Now we know why. In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, Beth said that her surgery was a surprise, but a necessary one and that undergoing the procedure likely saved her from early retirement. England said she first noticed something bothering her physically during the World Cup.
“There was something niggling me, but I didn’t realise the extent. After scans from the World Cup, it showed that I had quite a severe tear in my labrum in my hip. So, I had hip surgery. It was quite a bit of mess, but they have fixed me up well. The surgery should have been an hour and a half, but it took over three hours due to the extent of the tear.
“Thankfully I did [have surgery], because if I had continued playing and fully torn it then that could have been my career done. I was very lucky that [the surgeon] wasn’t telling me I had to retire that day.”
Tottenham Women are notoriously stingy with injury-related details, so it’s both surprising and unsurprising that it’s taken this long to realize the extent of England’s injury. And in truth, Spurs have done pretty well without their best player and primary goal threat. Martha Thomas, a new signing from Manchester United this past summer, has been on fire to start the season, scoring six league goals in Tottenham’s opening four matches to lead not only Spurs, but the whole of the WSL. It does beg the question — England is still Spurs’ best player. What will the team look like with both Thomas and England in the starting XI, and what adjustments will Robert Vilahamn need to make to see that happen?
It’s an exciting problem, to be sure. Spurs Women are in a surprising third place in the league, winning their past three games over Aston Villa, Brighton, and Bristol City after a competitive loss to defending champions Chelsea. Despite not yet taking the pitch this season, England has been an integral part of the squad, taking a leadership role as captain, and doing everything she can from the sidelines.
“It was a huge shock [to be named captain] to be honest because I have never seen myself as a captain - mainly because the teams I have been in there has always been so many leaders. For me, it was a very privileged moment when Robert asked me to be his captain. I took on the role, then found out I was injured. So that’s a new one for us both.
“We are doing everything we can so that I am still part of the team, but equally focusing on my rehab as well. I have been able to be in and around the team for most things. I am always attending team meetings, doing analysis. I am always around the changing room on game day, doing the team talk.”
Beth said she is hoping to return by the end of November. That means she’ll miss the next five matches or so, including an away trips to Manchester City and high-flying Leicester, but could put her in line to play in Spurs’ back to back North London Derbies against Arsenal in mid-December.